Georgia Governor Is Suing Atlanta Mayor Over COVID-19 Mask Mandate (UPDATE)

In a move that's frustratingly on-brand for Brian Kemp and company, the governor's new executive order is at odds with local leaders' mask efforts.


Image via Getty/Kevin C. Cox


UPDATED 8/14, 4:12 p.m. ET: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has dropped his lawsuit against the City of Atlanta.

The Republican lawmaker announced the move Thursday, weeks after he sued the city and its mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, over a coronavirus mask mandate. Kemp argued Atlanta officials could not impose COVID-19 measures that conflicted with those in his executive order. He said once his current order expires on Saturday, he will issue another one "with relevant language."

"I sued the City of Atlanta to immediately stop the shuttering of local businesses and protect local workers from economic instability," Kemp said in a statement Thursday. "For weeks, we have worked in good faith with Mayor Bottoms, and she agreed to abandon the city’s Phase One roll-back plan, which included business closures and a shelter in place order. Unfortunately, the Mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia. Given this stalemate in negotiations, we will address this very issue in the next Executive Order. We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

UPDATED 7/16, 8:55 p.m. ET: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has decided to escalate things by suing the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for their COVID-19 mask policy, FOX 5 Atlanta reports

"Governor Kemp seeks to have the Superior Court of Fulton County declare that Mayor Bottoms exceeded her authorities by issuing an executive order which were more restrictive than his Executive Orders related to the Public Health Emergency, declare that Mayor Bottom's executive orders are suspended, enjoin Mayor Bottoms from issuing any additional executive orders with more or less restrictive mandates than Governor Kemp has ordered or may order," the 124-page lawsuit reads.

Mayor Bottoms responded to the suit on Twitter, suggesting that the "tax payer money" used for the lawsuit could have been spent on expanding "testing and contact tracing."

3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing. #ATLStrong
Reading is fundamental. @GovKemp is suing Atlanta over RECOMMENDED guidelines. #ATLStrong

UPDATED 7/16, 2 p.m. ET: Stacy Abrams has spoken critically and crucially about her former gubernatorial race opponent Gov. Kemp’s decision "put lives at risk" in Georgia.

"From the beginning of this catastrophe, Brian Kemp has demonstrated he has absolutely no competency in this process,” she told MSNBC. “This is the same man who didn't understand weeks after the world knew that asymptomatic people could spread the disease."

"More than 3,000 Georgians have perished, disproportionately Black and brown Georgians, and he continues to fiddle while Rome burns," Abrams added. "This is not a man who's capable of leadership, but he is following the lead of the the incompetency and the immorality of the President of the United States.”

Watch the conversation below:

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See original story below.

In a move that only hurts the people he claims to serve, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has said that cities and counties can't mandate the wearing of COVID-19 masks.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreports, Kemp's order extends certain virus-inspired restrictions while also "explicitly banning cities and counties from adopting rules requiring masks or other face coverings." Notably, this is the first instance of Kemp and company specifying that cities and counties can't require masks. Instead, Kemp—a Republican and vocal Trump supporter—has continued to opt for merely encouraging the use of masks.

Today I issued Executive Order, 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.

— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) July 16, 2020

Among the immediate critics of Kemp's new language on wearing masks was Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who slammed the governor for ignoring the science.

"It is officially official," Johnson said late Wednesday. "Kemp does not give a damn about us."

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.

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

— Mayor Van Johnson (@MayorJohnsonSAV) July 16, 2020

Meanwhile, Alabama—a state with a similar inept governor—announced on Wednesday the launch of a statewide mask order.

And at the national level, this week has seen Walmart announce that all customers will be required to wear masks when shopping at their stores, as well as at Sam's Club locations.

Regardless of the situation in your local area, just do the right thing: Wear a mask.

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