Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Governor, is suing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City of Atlanta. The media is really getting this story wrong.
According to the national media, Brian Kemp is suing to stop Atlanta from enforcing mask mandates. That is not really true. The reason for the lawsuit is that Atlanta is demanding businesses shut back down and the city return to phase 1 of the COVID-19 reopening plan.
Yes, the lawsuit mentions the masks as an example of the mayor overreaching her authority, but the legal basis of the suit is Atlanta demanding Georgia busineses within the city shut back down.
I want to be clear that I understate Governor Kemp’s concern on the masks and I disagree with him. I think he should mandate them. But I also want you all to understand the bigger picture here and why he is filing the lawsuit.
Under Governor Kemp’s existing order, the counties and municipalities of Georgia have a number of things they must do. They are to ensure social distancing; reduced capacity at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants; temperature checks for business employees; mask requirements for employees who interact with customers; and a few other requirements.
None of the cities that are demanding masks have actually enforced those mandates. The City of Atlanta, for example, has not only not enforced social distancing and capacity mandates, but has actively turned a blind eye to crowds of unmasked protestors.
Naturally, the virus is spreading again and rapidly. Governor Kemp has always insisted that these mandates need to be enforced before he impose new ones, like mandating masks. The cities have refused while demanding mask mandates. Now, as the virus spreads and Atlanta has expressly refused to enforce existing mandates, the city wants to shut businesses back down.
Governor Kemp had to act.
Frankly, if the cities and counties were enforcing his existing requirements and the virus was still spreading, I think he would go to the next step of mandating masks. But when they won’t even enforce social distancing and reduced capacity at bars, he is not going to turn Georgians into misdemeanor lawbreakers and create a new revenue stream for these cities by targeting people not wearing masks while ignoring everything else.
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