July 16, 2020 | By: Richard Elliot, WSB-TV and Dave Huddleston, WSB-TV |
“ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp went to court Thursday to block Atlanta from enacting tougher coronavirus restrictions and its mask mandate.
The move will set up a legal showdown between the state and local governments over efforts to contain the disease.
#Breaking Gov. Kemp and the state of Georgia are suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta City Council to prevent them from enforcing the mask mandate and the phase one rollback. pic.twitter.com/UpJqyCXyJ8
— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) July 16, 2020
The state filed a lawsuit challenging Bottoms’ decision on July 10 to revert to “phase one” guidelines that push restaurants to close dining rooms and urge residents to leave home only for essential trips. It also challenges the city’s new mask requirements.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times. These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth,” Kemp said in a statement. “Just like sending in the Georgia National Guard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens. We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics.”
This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times. (1/4) https://t.co/vxiOmteHaH
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) July 16, 2020
“The State of Georgia continues to urge citizens to wear masks. This lawsuit is about the rule of law. The Constitution gives Governor Kemp chief executive power for the State of Georgia, including during a public health state of emergency. The City of Atlanta cannot continue to knowingly enter orders that are unenforceable and void,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement Thursday.
Bottoms has been one of the most vocal opponents to the governor’s executive orders that said no local government can institute laws or ordinances that go above or below the guidelines spelled out in the orders.
Kemp issued his newest executive order Wednesday night that extended his COVID-19 guidelines. As part of that order, Kemp said face masks are strongly encouraged, but not mandated. The language in his order specified that cities and counties can’t require the use of masks or other face coverings — because the ordinances superseded state law.
At a Cobb County bill signing on Thursday, Kemp did not address the mask issue but talked about the pain the pandemic is causing Georgians.”