|Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.AP|
ATLANTA — Atlanta’s mayor has signed an executive order mandating masks in Georgia’s largest city, defying Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to strongly encourage but not require face coverings.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday signed the order requiring masks, which could set up a confrontation with the Republican Kemp. The order goes into effect immediately. The governor has already clashed with the mayor recently over policing issues, calling out the National Guard to protect state government offices after an 8-year-old girl was fatally shot by armed people at the site of a fast food restaurant where an Atlanta police officer shot and killed a Black man.
“We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a statement. “Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face-covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”
The order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 persons on city of Atlanta property.
Like a number of other local leaders in Georgia, Bottoms has unsuccessfully appealed to Kemp to change his order that local governments can’t exceed the state’s requirements.
“Other cities have taken the approach that they are going to defy the governor’s executive order. Savannah has done it, some other cities have done it and Atlanta is going to do it today,” Bottoms told MSNBC in a Wednesday interview. “Because the fact of the matter is that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our cities, specifically black and brown communities with higher death rates.”