Jul 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia governor bans local governments from issuing mask mandates

Kemp. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kemp. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an executive order on Wednesday banning cities and counties from making face masks mandatory in public and explicitly voiding such mandates in at least 15 local governments, according to AP.

Why it matters: Kemp argued that statewide recommendations that strongly encourage but do not require masks should take precedent over local orders. Mask orders in major Georgia cities including Atlanta, Savannah and Athens will now be unenforceable, despite major upticks in confirmed coronavirus cases.

  • Georgia reported 3,871 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday — marking its second-highest daily total to date, per NPR.
  • Half of all new Georgia cases are being reported in Atlanta, where Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms herself has tested positive for the virus.

The big picture: Kemp, who was one of the first governors in the country to ease lockdown restrictions, extended some mitigation measures on Wednesday, requiring restaurants and businesses to observe social distancing and restrict gatherings to less than 50 people.

  • He has also ordered COVID-19-vulnerable populations, including the elderly and immunocompromised, to continue sheltering in place.
  • Kemp's latest order will expire at the end of the month.
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