Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has explicitly forbid local municipalities to require residents to wear face masks, voiding at least 15 different orders implemented across the state in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
An executive order issued by the Republican leader on Wednesday bars city and county governments from enforcing any mask requirements stricter than those issued at the state level. It also extends the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, which strongly encourage the wearing of masks.
“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,” it reads.
Kemp called mandatory masks taking the coronavirus guidelines “a bridge too far.” The governor has repeatedly encouraged Georgians to voluntarily wear a mask, even as an increasing number of other states order residents to have their faces covered public.
Candace Boce, a spokeswoman for Kemp, doubled down on the governor’s stance that local orders are “unenforceable.”
“Previous executive orders — and now this order — state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours. We have explained that local mask mandates are unenforceable. The governor continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public,” she said.
The latest mask order put Kemp at odds with local leaders in his state, where more than 3,000 people have died from coronavirus.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who signed a mask mandate for the city on July 1, slammed Kemp’s voiding of local orders.
“It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us,” Mayor Van Johnson wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “Every man and woman for himself/herself. Ignore the science and survive the best you can.”