SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order on Saturday, giving local governments the ability to require face coverings on their own property.
Until now, Kemp has only “strongly encouraged” the use of masks or face coverings and included language in his order to prevent local governments from issuing mandates more or less restrictive.
This comes after the White House Coronavirus Task Force recently “strongly” recommended Georgia adopt a statewide mask mandate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Still, cities including Savannah and Atlanta have defied the order and enforced local restrictions.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson shared his thoughts on the new executive order on Facebook.
“Even the White House says statewide mask mandate, our governor tragically and intentionally refuses,” Johnson wrote.
Candice Broce, communications director for Kemp, said governments must meet specific health-related metrics to be allowed to require masks. “If they implement such a requirement, there are numerous exceptions and a limit on penalties,” she added.
The order will have “very strong protections” for businesses, Broce stated, and owners will still be able to decide whether to require face coverings.
A spokesperson for the City of Savannah provided the following statement on the new order:
The mask order remains in place in Savannah, with City marshals and police officers actively providing education on mask-wearing and offering masks to those who do not have one. As has been the case since July 1, the City of Savannah remains focused on encouraging compliance with the emergency mask order to help our community more quickly get through this pandemic.Chief Communications Officer Nick Zoller
The new order is effective from Aug. 16 at 12 a.m. until Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m.
Existing restrictions for gatherings, sheltering in place, and businesses were renewed in the new order. Local school districts will still have full authority on how they reopen for the new year.
Read the full new executive order, HERE.