Gov. Brian Kemp for the first time spelled out that cities and counties can’t mandate the use of masks, triggering a furious reaction from local government officials who accused the Republican of placing his political interests above their efforts to protect residents from a growing pandemic.
The governor’s order, signed late Wednesday, puts the state on a collision course with local leaders and public health experts who say requiring face coverings is an essential step to containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Though Kemp’s previous orders have barred local governments from taking more restrictive steps than the state, the rules he signed on Wednesday were the first to explicitly ban cities and counties from requiring the use of masks or other face coverings.
The governor has said he believes requiring masks are a “bridge too far” and that such a mandate is unenforceable. Instead, he’s repeatedly urged Georgians to don face coverings and warned not doing so threatens the college football season.