ATLANTA (WSAV/AP) – Georgia leaders have filed a lawsuit seeking to block Atlanta’s mandatory mask ordinance.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr on Thursday introduced the suit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta City Council.
“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” a statement from Kemp reads. “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.”
On Twitter, Carr said: “This lawsuit is about the rule of law.”
“The Constitution gives Gov. Kemp chief executive power for the State, including during a public health state of emergency,” he continued. “The City of Atlanta cannot continue to knowingly enter orders that are unenforceable and void.”
In a Facebook Live earlier in the day, Bottoms said she’s not concerned about being sued and held firm to the mask requirement.
She later tweeted that instead of a lawsuit, “A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”
Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties had ordered masks in public, with many, including Savannah’s mayor, angry with Kemp for sending a different message.
Kemp is encouraging people to wear masks but declines to make it mandatory, unlike governors in 25 other states. The governor has maintained for weeks that cities and counties don’t have the power to require masks in public, saying no local order can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.
He made that prohibition explicit Wednesday, saying local governments couldn’t order masks in their own areas, including Atlanta’s airport. President Donald Trump was in Atlanta on Wednesday, talking about infrastructure repairs at airports.
“Just like sending in the Georgia National Guard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens,” a statement from Kemp continued. “We will fight to stop these reckless actions and put people over pandemic politics.”