ATLANTA - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an augmented executive order Saturday, giving cities and counties some leeway on mask mandates for the first time.
The order renewed existing restrictions on large gatherings, sheltering-in-place orders, and business obligations through August 31.
The order does not issue a statewide mask mandate and restricts local governments from issuing mask mandates on private property unless certain requirements are met.
Local governments will now be permitted to require individuals to wear face masks on public property. However, a threshold of more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days must be reached in order for municipalities to impose a mask mandate, Gov. Kemp said.
Furthermore, the owner of the private property or the occupant must consent to a mask requirement on private property.
Under the order, fines are limited to $50 and a warning must be given before a citation is issued. Nonprofits and private businesses are exempt from fines.
Kemp argued a mask mandate on private property would hurt business owners saying:
"This order also protects Georgia businesses from government overreach by restricting the application and enforcement of local masking requirements to public property. While I support local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp during a COVID-19 press briefing from the state capitol Thursday, May 21, 2020.
Earlier this week, the governor dropped his lawsuit against the city of Atlanta for its mask mandate.
Bottoms and Kemp have been fighting over Atlanta's mask mandate since it was signed on Wednesday, July 8.
The governor and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, filed suit in state court in Atlanta, arguing that Bottoms has overstepped her authority.
In a statement released to FOX 5, Governor Kemp said:
"In late July, I asked Georgians to do ‘Four Things for Four Weeks’ to stop COVID-19. Without a mandate, our citizens answered the call, and we are making progress.“In Georgia, our statewide case numbers have dropped 22% over the last two weeks, and daily hospitalizations have decreased by 7% in the last seven days.
We are on average testing over 31,000 Georgians daily at 180 SPOCs while maintaining a low rate of transmission. The positivity rate is on the decline, and the mortality rate continues to fall.“While encouraged by the data, we cannot grow complacent.
This Executive Order extends the shelter in place order for the medically fragile, continues the ban on large gatherings, and maintains health and safety protocols for Georgia businesses."
However, the Associated Press reports that a leaked federal report urges the state to take stronger steps and notes Georgia has a per capita infection rate that is third-worst in the U.S. over the past two weeks.
Gov. Kemp went on to say that he encourages all citizens to continue wearing masks, wash their hands, and practice social distancing.
An aide for the governor told FOX 5 News the executive order “allows local governments to require face coverings on their own property if they meet specific health-related metrics.” The measure also limits penalties and offers numerous exceptions.
The executive order also protects a business's right to choose its own face-covering requirements and who can enforce it, according to the governor's office.
The full 49-page executive order can be read below:
The governor’s office had previously said no changes were expected regarding schools in the order.
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