Kemp signs new executive order, allows local governments to require masks

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FILE – In this July 17, 2020, file photo, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp returns to his office after giving a coronavirus briefing at the Capitol in Atlanta. Kemp says he’s withdrawing a request for an emergency order that would block Atlanta from ordering people to wear masks in public or imposing other restrictions related to […]

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order on Saturday, giving local governments the ability to require face coverings on their own property.

Until now, Kemp has only “strongly encouraged” the use of masks or face coverings and included language in his order to prevent local governments from issuing mandates more or less restrictive.

This comes after the White House Coronavirus Task Force recently “strongly” recommended Georgia adopt a statewide mask mandate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Still, cities including Savannah and Atlanta have defied the order and enforced local restrictions.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson shared his thoughts on the new executive order on Facebook.

“Even the White House says statewide mask mandate, our governor tragically and intentionally refuses,” Johnson wrote.

Candice Broce, communications director for Kemp, said governments must meet specific health-related metrics to be allowed to require masks. “If they implement such a requirement, there are numerous exceptions and a limit on penalties,” she added.

The new order is effective from Aug. 16 at 12 a.m. until Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m.

Existing restrictions for gatherings, sheltering in place, and businesses were renewed in the new order. Local school districts will still have full authority on how they reopen for the new year.

Read the full new executive order, HERE.

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