Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, center and Vice Adm. Jerome Adams, arrive wearing protective masks to a ‘Wear A Mask’ tour stop in Dalton, Georgia, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp urged residents Friday to wear a face mask when in public, two days after he blocked local officials from enforcing their own rules to further prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“It’s the community that defeats this virus, not the government,” Kemp said at a press conference. “We need all younger Georgians to recognize the importance of following public health guidance. To realize their exposure can have serious consequences on their loved ones.”
Kemp on Wednesday barred local authorities through an executive order from implementing and enforcing their own mask mandates while continuing to urge residents to wear face coverings in public.
On Friday, he called on local leaders to use “your connections with the local media” to build support for wearing a mask and to ramp up enforcement of policies the governor’s office has already adopted, like protecting the medically fragile and ensuring people remain 6-feet apart.
“I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate and while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” Kemp said Friday.
Kemp reprimanded some local leaders for using the pandemic for “political gain.” On Thursday, the Republican governor of Georgia sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, and members of Atlanta’s City Council for ordering people to wear masks.
“What kind of message does it send when you have mandates already that people aren’t enforcing?” Kemp said. “I have grave concern about our young people and other people getting so reliant on the government that we lose the basis of what this country was founded on, and that’s freedom and liberty and opportunity for any one, any one.”
The coronavirus pandemic has threatened “the health and well being of our friends and neighbors” while creating “economic hardship we haven’t seen” in a long time, Kemp said, warning that businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy and thousands have filed for unemployment.
A slew of businesses recently announced they would begin implementing their own mask requirements in the absence of local and state orders — policies their workers are left to enforce. Walmart, Target, Kroger, Best Buy and Apple now require customers to wear a face covering before entering.