Kemp, Bottoms get into war of words over mask mandates once again

ATLANTA — A day after the mayor issued an indoor mask order across the city of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Gov. Brian Kemp traded jabs with each other over mask policies.

Bottoms’ new executive order that was issued late Wednesday night says all persons in a public place, including private businesses and establishments, must wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when indoors.

In a tweet Thursday, Kemp said the city should be focusing on the increasing crime rate.

“Instead of asking our dedicated men and women in uniform to enforce a mask mandate, Atlanta should focus on combating violent crime and street racing,” Kemp said in a tweet.

During a news conference, Kemp went even further, to say, “I know these officers damn well don’t have time to be writing tickets for not being masked up. I mean, that is ridiculous.”

Kemp tweeted earlier in the week that he would not sign a mask order for the state.

Bottoms fired back Thursday saying: “What’s ridiculous is that his strategy with crime seems to be the same as his strategy with COVID, to pick a fight with me. Vaccinations are down and crime and COVID are up across GA. He should stop trying to win an election by trashing Atlanta, the capital city of the state he leads.”

The war of words over masking is nothing new between the two politicians.

Last July, Bottoms issued an executive order mandating that people wear masks or face coverings.

That order was soon superseded by the governor, who issued his own executive order that said face masks are strongly encouraged, but not mandated. The language in the order specified that cities and counties can’t require the use of masks or other face coverings.

Kemp even went as far as suing Bottoms, the city and the Atlanta City Council over the mask mandate.

That lawsuit was later dropped.

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Following the swearing in of Vedra Colvin as Georgia’s newest Supreme Court justice on Thursday, Kemp reiterated that he doesn’t think mask policies work and mixed messaging from the White House was leading to confusion over vaccinations throughout the country.

“Again, I don’t think mask mandates work. We had the President of the United States telling all Americans, begging them to get your vaccine, take your mask off. Now, we know that guidance is different. What does that tell people? Mixed messages from the government,” Kemp said.

Savannah issued a mask mandate for the city earlier this week.

There is no indication that Kemp plans on issuing any new executive orders to prevent those mandates from going into effect.

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