2022 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 11 - Offenses Against Public Order and Safety
Article 2 - Offenses Against Public Order
§ 16-11-38. Wearing Mask, Hood, or Device Which Conceals Identity of Wearer

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-11-38 (2022)
  1. A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he or she:
    1. Wears a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of his or her face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal his or her identity;
    2. Is upon:
      1. Any public way or public property; or
      2. The private property of another without the written permission of the owner or occupier of such private property to do so; and
    3. Intends to conceal his or her identity.
  2. Without limiting the generality of subsection (a) of this Code section, no person shall be guilty of violating this Code section by:
    1. Wearing a traditional holiday costume on the occasion of the holiday;
    2. Lawfully engaging in trade and employment or in a sporting activity where a mask is worn for the purpose of ensuring the physical safety of the wearer or because of the nature of the occupation, trade, profession, or sporting activity;
    3. Using a mask in a theatrical production including use in Mardi gras celebrations and masquerade balls;
    4. Wearing a gas mask prescribed in emergency management drills and exercises or emergencies; or
    5. Wearing a mask for the purpose of complying with the guidance of any health care agency or health care provider to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other coronaviruses or influenza or other infectious diseases.

History. Ga. L. 1951, p. 9, §§ 3, 7; Code 1933, § 26-2913, enacted by Ga. L. 1968, p. 1249, § 1; Ga. L. 2021, p. 82, § 1/SB 235.

The 2021 amendment, effective July 1, 2021, substituted the present provisions of subsection (a) for the former provisions, which read: “A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he wears a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property or upon the private property of another without the written permission of the owner or occupier of the property to do so.”; substituted the present provisions of subsection (b) for the former provisions, which read: “This Code section shall not apply to”; substituted “Wearing” for “A person wearing” at the beginning of paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(4); in paragraph (b)(2), substituted “Lawfully engaging” for “A person lawfully engaged” at the beginning, deleted a comma following “wearer” in the middle, and deleted “or” preceding “profession” near the end; in paragraph (b)(3), substituted “Using” for “A person using” at the beginning, and deleted “or” at the end; substituted “; or” for a period at the end of paragraph (b)(4); and added paragraph (b)(5).

Editor’s notes.

On April 13, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order which provides as follows: “Whereas: On March 14, 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the State of Georgia, I issued Executive Order No. 03.14.20.01, declaring a Public Health State of Emergency in Georgia; and

“Whereas: The Georgia General Assembly concurred with Executive Order 03.14.20.01 by joint resolution on March 15, 2020; and

“Whereas: On April 8, 2020, I renewed the Public Health State of Emergency until May 13, 2020 by issuing Executive Order 04.08.20.02; and

“Whereas: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for limiting the spread of COVID-19 includes the recommendation that persons wear masks to prevent spread of this novel coronavirus; and

“Whereas: Code Section 16-11-38 states that it is a misdemeanor for a person to, in part, ‘. . . wear[ ] a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer. . . ’; and

“Whereas: Code Section 16-11-38 provides limited exceptions for the statute, including subsection (b)(4), which excludes enforcement of the statute against ‘[a] person wearing a gas mask prescribed in emergency management drills and exercises or emergencies’; and

“Whereas: Guidance for law enforcement may be necessary to ensure that residents and visitors of this State are able to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations without fear of offending Georgia law; and

“Whereas: Code Section 38-3-51(c)(4) vests the Governor with the power to perform and exercise such other functions, powers, and duties as may be deemed necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population; and

“Whereas: Code Section 38-3-51(d)(1) vests the Governor with the power to suspend any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency if strict compliance with any statute, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency or disaster; and

“Now, therefore, pursuant to Code Section 38-3-51, and the authority vested in me as the Governor of the State of Georgia, it is hereby Ordered: That Code Section 16-11-38(b)(4) shall not apply to any person wearing ‘a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer’ if that person is wearing such device for the purpose of complying with the guidance of any healthcare agency or to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It is further Ordered: That if one or more of the provisions contained in this Order shall be held to be invalid, in violation of the Georgia Constitution, in violation of Georgia law, or unenforceable in any respect, such invalidity, violation, or unenforceability shall not affect any other provisions of this Order, but, in such case, this Order shall be construed as if such invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision had never been contained within the Order.

“It is further Ordered: All provisions of the Order shall become effective upon signature and shall expire at the conclusion of the Public Health State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 03.14.20.01 and renewed by Executive Order 04.08.20.02. If the Public Health State of Emergency is renewed, this Order shall carry forward with the Public Health State of Emergency until such State of Emergency is terminated or ceases to be renewed by the Governor.”

Law reviews.

For note, “Klan, Cloth and Constitution: Anti-mask Laws and the First Amendment,” see 25 Ga. L. Rev. 819 (1991).

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