Governor extends COVID-19 guidelines, public health emergency -- no change on mask mandates

Governor extends COVID-19 guidelines, public health emergency -- no change on mask mandates

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the state’s COVID-19 guidelines and public health emergency once again.

Kemp signed the orders Friday night, extending the public health emergency until Sept. 10 and the COVID-19 guidelines until Aug. 15.

“The fight against COVID-19 continues, and these executive orders reaffirm our commitment to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians. As our state ramps up testing, expands hospital surge capacity, and provides staffing, supplies, and resources to cities and counties throughout Georgia, we urge local officials to enforce the rules and restrictions detailed in these orders,” Kemp said in a news release.

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As part of the executive order, Kemp said face masks are strongly encouraged, but not mandated.

This order also reiterated what his previous executive orders already said: No local government can institute laws or ordinances that go above or below the guidelines spelled out in the orders.

“While government plays an important role in fighting this pandemic, the people of our great state will ultimately be the ones who defeat this virus. We continue to encourage fellow Georgians to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands regularly, and follow public health guidance. Together, we will flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.”

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After his previous order was filed, it set up a battle between the city of Atlanta and the governor’s office over the mayor’s decision to revert back to phase one of the COVID-19 reopening plan, asking restaurants to go back to to-go service only, and asking city residents to stay home with the exception of essential trips. It also asked all city residents to wear masks while out in public.

The governor filed a lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the entire Atlanta city council, saying the mask requirements would negatively impact local businesses.

Atlanta was one of more than a dozen cities across the state to implement the mandates, which Kemp has said are unenforceable.

As of Friday, more than 186,000 Georgians have tested positive for the virus, along with more than 3,700 deaths.

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