Kemp sues to block Atlanta face mask mandate

By Andrea V. Watson

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office filed a lawsuit Thursday afternoon seeking to ban Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom’s face mask mandate. The announcement followed the mayor’s news conference in which she said publicly that her order was “enforceable.”

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp tweeted.

In a news conference earlier Thursday, Bottoms defended her executive order, which requires residents to wear face masks in certain settings. She said in a virtual news conference that despite the governor calling the measure “unenforceable,” it stands.

“Our policies are enforceable and they stand,” she said, adding that the city has focused on “clear data.”

Mayor Bottoms, who tested positive for COVID-19, issued an executive order July 8 requiring people to wear a face mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth within the city in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections. The order also prohibits gatherings of more than ten persons on city of Atlanta property.

“We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” she had said. “Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”

Atlanta isn’t the only city to issue a mask mandate. Savannah, East Point, Athens-Clarke County have also issued orders and other cities across the state could soon pass similar measures.

President Donald Trump visited Atlanta Wednesday and was seen not wearing a mask.

“The president violated the mandate,” Bottoms said, adding that she noticed the governor took a formal position on masks in Georgia after that visit.

“Whatever the motive is, at the end of day, we all have to do the right thing,” she said. “This disease is hitting everyone.”

The mayor said that both scientists and health-care professionals are urging people to wear masks.

“We need to help slow the spread and be considerate to their families,” she said. “It’s a simple thing to do.”

She asked that businesses continue to follow the mandate.

“If you want to protect yourself and customers, you should wear a mask,” Bottoms said. “We have to be responsible.You are doing the right thing and your customers and clients are better.”

She also said she’s not concerned about the state suing the city.

“City still has a mandate over the buildings we operate,” she said.

“I’m not concerned about that at all, Bottoms said. “I’m not afraid of the city being sued.”

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