Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over Mask Mandate

by Julie Scagell
Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor Over Face Mask Order
Icon Sportswire/Marcus Ingram/Getty

A report by the White House Task Force recommends Georgia issue a statewide mask mandate

On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and members of Atlanta’s City Council for ordering people to wear masks. This comes one day after he blocked local officials and business owners from enforcing their own mask rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms does not have the legal authority to modify, change or ignore Governor Kemp’s executive orders,” the court document said. “What kind of message does it send when you have mandates already that people aren’t enforcing?” Kemp later tweeted. “This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.”

The lawsuit also said that Kemp alone “leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic,” adding that he has the power “to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders.”

“I have grave concern about our young people and other people getting so reliant on the government that we lose the basis of what this country was founded on, and that’s freedom and liberty and opportunity for any one, any one,” Kemp tweeted.

Mayor Lance Bottoms responded to Kemp’s lawsuit, saying, “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.”

Today, Kemp sent another tweet urging Georgians to, in fact, wear a mask. If you’re scratching your head right now, please know you’re not alone.

“I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate, and while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” Kemp said.

He also said of businesses that they are feeling the financial strain of the pandemic, saying in part, “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 wrote.

But as one business owner pointed out, the longer the pandemic goes on (because people refuse to wear masks to slow the spread), the worse off they will be.

As of Thursday, there were 77,255 new cases reported, topping a previous high set two days ago, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 943 people were reported dead that day. Georgia has been named one of 18 states in the “red zone” by the White House Task Force, meaning it had more than 100 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people last week and had more than 10 percent of diagnostic tests coming back as positive. The report recommended Georgia issue a statewide mask mandate.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.