Kemp’s executive order voids masks mandates imposed by some local governments as Covid-19 cases tick up in cities across the state, already claiming over 3,000 lives.
Even as Kemp has been resistant to a statewide mask mandate for Georgia, other Republican governors are now requiring face coverings in their states.
Kemp’s previous executive orders prohibited local action from being more restrictive than the state’s requirements — but Wednesday’s order specially mentioned facial covering and mask mandates.
The mayor of Savannah, who signed a mask mandate for the city, fired back at Kemp’s decision.
In a CNN interview earlier this month, Johnson said because the city was hitting new daily records for coronavirus cases, “it was really necessary for us to take more drastic action to protect our city.”
He told CNN that the city would offer masks to offenders before giving them a citation.
After Kemp’s order was issued, Johnson said on Wednesday that Savannah would continue to “follow the science” and still have masks available for residents.
The governor’s office had argued that Bottom’s order is not “legally enforceable,” pointing to Kemp’s executive order limiting local action to being less restrictive than state measures.
“You know who is caught in the battle between the Georgia Governor and Local governments? Grocery store clerks, retail workers, and restaurant servers,” Mayor Lynn Deutsch wrote on Twitter. “In other words, just the folks who aren’t likely to have health insurance and paid time off.”
“From the beginning of this catastrophe, Brian Kemp has demonstrated that he has absolutely no competency in this process,” Abrams said Wednesday.
Kemp has encouraged Georgians to wear a mask, and has worn one in public himself, but argues against requiring them for all residents.
“We don’t need a mandate for people to do the right thing,” Kemp told reporters earlier this month.
“I still believe this is going to be a difficult order to enforce, and I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate,” Ivey said at a Wednesday press conference. “Yet I also know, with all my heart, that the numbers and data the past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction.”
CNN’s Joe Sutton, Dianne Gallagher, Steve Almasy, Pierre Meilhan and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.