Mayor Bottoms Signs Executive Order Mandating Public Mask-Wearing In Defiance of Gov. Kemp

It seems unlikely that Kemp's office will block the new ordinance as the Governor has allowed similar mandates to go unchallenged in Athens, East Point, and Savannah.

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday evening signed an Executive Order mandating that residents wear masks in public joining Athens, East Point, and Savannah in defying Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp who is only “urging”Georgians to wear face coverings rather than requiring it. The Order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people in the City.

 “We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” Mayor Bottoms said in a press release after the order was signed. “Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face-covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”

The C.D.C. recommends “that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

The City of Atlanta plans to provide face coverings to the general public through funding under the CARES Act. The face coverings will be available at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, City of Atlanta homeless partners’ facilities and shelters, and food pick-up locations.  Atlanta Fire and Rescue will also work with community partners on the distribution of face coverings to Atlanta residents.

Kemp’s emergency powers superseded that of local municipalities but it seems unlikely that the Governor will block or challenge the Mayor’s order based on comments he made Tuesday.

“I realize that many on this call have different opinions on the appropriate response to this pandemic, and that’s fine,” Kemp said in a conference call Tuesday with officials of local municipalities. “But we all agree that masks are good and can help stop the spread. We all know that social distancing makes it hard for the virus to travel. We agree that handwashing can limit exposure. So instead of mandates, I’m asking you to join me in raising awareness.”

Under the Executive Order, “all persons within the jurisdiction of the City of Atlanta shall wear a mask or a cloth face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain appropriate social distancing from another person not in the same household.”

There are some exceptions to who has to wear masks under this mandate: any person younger than ten; any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents the wearing or a mask or face covering; any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is smoking; any person while the person is in a personal motor vehicle; any person obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the mask or face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face or head, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal; any person while the person is in a swimming pool; any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election; any person while the person is speaking for a broadcast or to an audience.

There isn’t currently a penalty for violating the order, the Mayor’s office confirmed in an email to What Now Atlanta.

“I specifically asked our governor about allowing Atlanta to go forward with mandating masks in our city, he refused,” Bottoms told MSNBC Wednesday morning ahead of signing the mandate. “Other cities have taken the approach that they are going to defy the governor’s executive order and Savannah has done it, some other cities have done it and Atlanta is going to do it today.”

The order arrives a few days after Bottoms announced both she and her husband tested positive for COVID-19.

Click here to read the Executive Order in its entirety.

[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.]

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

18 Responses

  1. I walked past a smoker today who didn’t make any effort to social distance.
    Smoking is about the only time that you can see what someone really blows out.

  2. I don’t understand the “Defiance” in this. Kemp does not mandate masks statewide but does urge that we use them. Mayor goes further and demands everyone use them in City of Atl. Somehow this becomes some sort of bold DEFIANCE. Kemp believes everyone in the state, especially rural areas can decide this for themselves. Maybe it needs to be a requirement in a dense city, don’t know. It is now some type of defiant rebellion against the evil despotic governor.

  3. as a nurse in hospital setting- this VIRUS is dangerous was HELL ! If you are not ignorant – wear a MASK ! its really NOT that difficult of a concept !

    1. The flu is dangerous as hell also. If your immune system is compromised already then a virus that crystallizes in the lungs will surely harm you since you are already sick. Not wearing a mask does not make you ignorant. It should be your choice based on the FACT that the mask does not STOP one from getting a virus. Slows down is entirely different from stopping. You as a nurse should know that.

      1. nowhere in her comment does she says it stops the virus. slowing it down is an effective method from keeping the hospitals from reaching capacity.

  4. This literally isn’t enforceable. It’s like the mayor doesn’t understand the government hierarchy.

    1. Agreed. It strange timing that the mayor is attempting to force something like this in public spaces. It makes no sense. And if it doesn’t make sense then it’s probably not true .

      1. The irony in all this is the mayor was so careless and reckless she got covid but is trying to give us a sermon on the issue. No thank you.

    2. The whole thing is weird. There is no penalty, which is a tacit admission that it’s not enforceable. Expect nobody to change their behavior as a result of this order.

      1. It might not be enforceable, but it gives a business the right to refuse service to someone without a mask.
        People act so entitled and rude to restaurant employees about masks, it’s disgusting.
        You don’t like a business’s mask policy, don’t go there– there’s absolutely no reason to start arguing with employees/owners about it.
        Geez common decency has absolutely devolved in this country.

  5. This is absolutely ridiculous because most keep skipping over the FACT that a mask, or covering does NOT STOP this man made virus like the flu or measles or polio. Your immune system needs to be ok top condition to go in and naturally fight any foreign bacteria in the body naturally. No one is promoting eating healthy or pulling away from mucus forming foods and medicines. This mayor’s timing is off . At first she was the only 1 with COVID then 3 other family members, then she said she test after each public event she goes to, then she said she wears the mask at all time . So if you wear a mask and you still “ caught corona virus” what does mandatory wearing of a mask or cloth really prevent? You can’t prevent it or stop it you can only slow it down. This is about fear, control, and politics . Death will conquer us all eventually so to think that you will stop yourself from catching a virus similar to the common cold or to think that your fear of death will stop it is absolutely mentally insane. The cdc recommends because they know that the masks( which they recently changed to cloth on their site because complaints of people fainting were being reported) does not STOP anything . Mayor Bottoms is now creating a situation where the state and city level are not on the same page which will cause conflict amongst the people who are sheep and folllow and those who are using common sense. The mask stops oxygen from flowing freely into the lungs and nasal area. Lack of proper oxygen into the body will weaken the immune system and create congestion in the lungs due to breathing in more carbon than oxygen. This is disappointing to hear and see that our political officials are not using common sense. The mask does not stop anything . Read and comprehend. I hope that Kemp stays strong and not get bullied into trying to force people to wear a mask or cloth in public . That’s infringing on your human right to choose .

    1. This is actually the best thing I’ve ever heard on this website. Thank you so much for showing concern about this plandemic by explaining that most of us need to be naturally exposed to this virus to properly fight it off! I hate wearing masks because they literally asphyxiate me after 5 minutes of wearing it

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