Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is still strongly encouraging people to wear face masks, but he also says that counties, cities, or local governments throughout the state can’t make face masks mandatory.
The ban on more stringent mask edicts was contained in a 41-page executive order issued yesterday that extends various coronavirus-related guidelines throughout the state through July 31 that were due to expire under a previous executive order.
“[A]ny 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,” the GOP governor wrote on page 32 of the document.
On page 2, he explains that “all residents and visitors of the State of Georgia are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings as practicable while outside their homes or places of residence, except when eating, drinking, or exercising outdoors.”
Businesses are still free to establish mask policies as a condition of entry.
Among other things, Georgia still bans gatherings larger than 50 attendees and continues to impose certain restrictions on business operations, as well as requiring nursing home residents and those with preexisting conditions to shelter in place.
Legal action that would challenge the governor’s override of local mandates is likely, and some cities under mostly Democrat mayors have already gone to court. Much of this is more about politics than public health, however.
According to Candice Broce, Kemp’s communications director, “Previous executive orders – and now this order – state no local action can be more or less restrictive than ours. We have explained that local mask mandates are unenforceable. The Governor continues to strongly encourage Georgians to wear masks in public,” as reported by Fox News.
Georgia reported 3,800 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the second-highest tally to date, plus 37 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, Georgia has experienced approximately 128,000 COVID-positive results, with about 3,000 deaths.
Georgia has been under a watchful eye, as it were, from the fear-mongering media since becoming one of the first states to reopen its economy.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Even though the new wave of COVID-19 patients tends to be younger and less sick, they are filling hospital beds at a rapid clip…Disease experts at Georgia Tech and elsewhere have warned that Georgia is running out of time to prevent surges of cases that have overwhelmed hospitals in Florida, Arizona and other states that eased restrictions.”
It was also revealed that some Florida labs are falsely or incorrectly reporting a drastic increase in COVID-positive test rates.