Georgia Mayors Rage at Gov. Brian Kemp for Ban on Local Mask Mandates

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) effectively stripped local governments across the state from enforcing mask mandates via executive action on Wednesday, drawing ire from mayors across the state, one of whom accused Kemp of trying to “politicize” residents’ health.

While several localities across Georgia have implemented mask mandates — from Atlanta to Augusta to Savannah — Kemp moved to prevent local officials from enforcing the orders. However, he is “strongly” encouraging Georgians to wear masks in public.

“Kemp’s new order also bans local governments from requiring masks on public property, which void requirements that some governments have imposed for citizens to wear masks inside city and county buildings,” according to the Associated Press.

“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,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (D) said in response.

“In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!” he exclaimed.

A mask mandate has been in effect in Savannah since July 1, with the possibility of a $500 fine for violating the order.

Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch (D), whose city was slated to implement a mask mandate this week, also took issue with Kemp’s order, apologizing to residents on behalf of the governor, who she said is trying to “politicize” their health.

“We have to work together in stopping the spread of the coronavirus in @CityofAugusta,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. (D) said the same day as Kemp’s order. “Wear A Mask,” he continued.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) recently accused President Donald Trump of breaking the law after he did not wear a mask at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — an apparent violation that, under Bottoms’ order, could result in a fine or jail time.

“So by not having on a mask, President Trump did violate law in the city of Atlanta, but I am somehow not surprised that he disregarded our rules and regulations in the city,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) also slammed Kemp’s decision, stating that he is actively “following the lead of the incompetency and the immorality” of the president.

Kemp’s decision comes as several states implement their own mask mandates. Most recently, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced a statewide mask order, effective July 16, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

“I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce, and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate,” Ivey said Wednesday. “Yet I also know, with all my heart, that the numbers and data the past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction.”

Georgia has reported 127,834 cases of the novel coronavirus and 3,091 related-fatalities.

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