Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia has banned all cities and counties in his state from mandating that face masks to be worn in public.
According to Fox News, Kemp’s executive order revises guidelines placed during the start of the pandemic, which merely encouraged residents to wear masks in public.
Today I issued Executive Order 07.15.20.01, which extends the gatherings ban of more than 50 people, renews business restrictions, protects the medically fragile, and strongly encourages Georgians to wear masks in public.https://t.co/CKFdrW4C3M— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) July 16, 2020
“State, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other [PPE] while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order,” the executive order reads.
Kemp’s previous executive orders have already banned local governments from taking more restrictive measures than the state, but this new rule specifies cities and counties as well.
The first municipality to defy Kemp’s orders is Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who ordered police to issue $500 citations to businesses that didn’t enforce mask-wearing.
Following Kemp’s executive order, Van Johnson tweeted, “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.”
It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us. Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.— Mayor Van Johnson (@MayorJohnsonSAV) July 16, 2020
In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!
“Previous executive orders - and now this order - state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours,” Candice Broce said, Communications Director for Gov. Kemp, “We have explained that local mask mandates are unenforceable.”
“[Gov. Kemp] continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public,” Broce added.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, Georgia has confirmed 3,871 coronavirus cases today, with 37 deaths and 417 hospitalizations. Georgia is among a few of the states that have witnessed a recent spike in COVID cases, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.