In addition to our normal news coverage, What Now Atlanta is tracking ways Atlanta’s businesses are adapting to the novel coronavirus and the challenges it brings to brick-and-mortars.
Governor Brian Kemp on Wednesday extended coronavirus restrictions that were set to expire today by way of a renewed Executive Order which included language that the mask mandate recently issued by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had been “suspended.”
“State, county, or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule, or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order,” Kemp wrote in Wednesday’s order.
Kemp’s Executive Order—41-pages in length—also voids similar mask mandates from 14 other Georgia localities including in Savannah which was the first city to issue such a mandate. The Governor continues to “urge” the state’s citizens to wear masks, however, tweeting Wednesday, “today I issued Executive Order 07.15.20.01, 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.”
Under Bottoms’ mask mandate, Atlantans were required to wear face coverings in public places, including when patronizing restaurants and retail stores. At the time of the mandate, the mayor’s office said it was enforceable. The Governor’s office quickly responded with a press release stating, “like all of the local mask mandates, Mayor Bottoms’ order is unenforceable. We continue to encourage Georgians to do the right thing and wear a mask voluntarily. If the Mayor wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing the current provisions of the Governor’s orders.”
Businesses can choose to require face coverings at their discretion, however.
The Mayor’s office Wednesday did not immediately respond to What Now Atlanta’s request for comment.
[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]