Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order Wednesday night explicitly banning cities from enacting their own mask mandates, even as the state experiences a sharp rise in coronavirus cases and other Republican governors are turning to mask orders to try to quell the surge.
Kemp’s order voids existing mask mandates in more than a dozen cities or counties, while also extending other coronavirus social-distancing restrictions statewide.
The governor had previously tried to ban cities and counties from passing any coronavirus restrictions that went further than Georgia’s guidelines. But many cities, including Atlanta, defied him by passing mask mandates anyway, arguing it was essential to flatten the curve. Kemp’s new order “strongly encourages” masks.