Thursday, July 16, 2020

Kemp overturns local mask ordinances

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 8:25 AM

Late Wednesday evening, Gov. Brian Kemp extended his state of emergency executive order to expressly forbid local governments in Georgia from mandating mask usage in public spaces with their own ordinances.

The order, at least for now, overturns local mask laws in Savannah, Atlanta, and a few other municipalities.

"It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us," responded Savannah Mayor Van Johnson in a social media post.


In Kemp's view, Johnson says "It is officially every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Our masks will continue to be available."

The City of Savannah's ordinance had required mask usage in any public space, and outdoors when social distancing could not be observed.

Still, many local businesses had not been enforcing the mandate anyway, which had drawn the attention of the Mayor days before.

Now, there will be virtually no way to enforce mask usage unless private businesses require them.


The exact portion of the Governor's order involving masks says "any state, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order."

However, the order does contain broad language allowing school districts more leeway in the use of masks should they choose to open this fall with some form of in-person education.

Kemp's addition to the order came the same day that CDC Director Robert Redfield called for universal mask wearing as the only way to bring COVID-19 under control.

Also, in a widely lauded move, Walmart issued a statement saying that all customers must wear masks while in stores.

Kemp's order also came the same day President Trump visited Atlanta to tout a new infrastructure project on I-75. When a maskless Trump disembarked from Air Force One to greet Kemp on the tarmac, Kemp was seen to take his mask off.


Over the past week, Kemp had been traveling the state on the "Wear a Mask Tour," urging the personal decision to wear a mask. 

About The Author

Jim Morekis

A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for 15 years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series...
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