Gov. Kemp says Georgia businesses will not be forced to adhere to mask, vaccine mandates

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order that will keep businesses from being forced to adhere to mask or vaccine mandates put in place by local jurisdictions.

In a news conference at the Capitol, Kemp said that businesses can comply with local ordinances if they want to, but they will not be enforced.

The executive order also makes it so that local governments can’t put capacity limits on businesses.

“Local governments will not be able to force businesses to be the city’s mask police, the vaccine police, or any other burdensome restriction that will only lead to employees being let go, revenue tanking or businesses closing their doors,” Kemp said.

Last month, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a mask mandate for the city. Bottoms has not responded to the governor’s latest order.

Earlier this week, Gov. Brian Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey pleaded with unvaccinated Georgians to get the COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge across the state.

Kemp said that Georgians know the vaccines are available and that they are responsible for their own health decisions.

The governor said he will give state employees the day off Sept. 3 and he strongly encouraged them to get vaccinated. Kemp said he would not mandate vaccines for state employees.

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Kemp said the state would also be working to add staff and boost funding to hospitals. Hospital systems across the country are dealing with staff shortages.

Kemp also promised that the new case surge won’t affect Georgia businesses.

“I want to reiterate Georgia will remain open for business, we will not shut down, we will not stop families from earning a paycheck,” he said.

The state previously lifted its emergency declarations and orders related to COVID-19 on June 30.

A month later, on July 22, Kemp renewed a state of emergency for continued COVID-19 economic recovery until Aug. 29, 2021.