The move comes as the CDC continues to advise Americans to don masks covering the mouth and nose when out in public spaces amid COVID-19. Per the Associated Press, Kemp signed an order on Monday stating that the 1951 law—originally passed to prevent KKK members from wearing hoods at public rallies and other gatherings—"can't be enforced" against people covering up for virus protection.
Earlier this month, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for police to not enforce the 1951 law. "I was appalled to see two men in another city escorted from a store for wearing masks, as now recommended by the CDC," she said.
The law in question stated that it qualifies as a misdemeanor to wear "a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property upon the private property of another without the written permission of the owner or occupier of the property to do so."
Sen. Nikema Williams, per a regional Fox report, was among those who raised concerns that the law could also have a detrimental effect on many in the state who were simply following CDC guidelines. And in the order signed this week suspending the law, Kemp himself said that everyone should be able to follow those guidelines "without fear of prosecution."
In New York, meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday an executive order in which residents are now required to wear a mask or face covering in public "in situations where social distancing is not possible."