Georgia Governor Withdraws Emergency Hearing Request To Block Atlanta Mask Order

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) withdrew an emergency hearing request in a lawsuit that aims to prevent the largest city in its state from ordering people to wear masks in public or to impose other restrictions related to the pandemic.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall told The Hill on Tuesday morning that the governor was encouraged by the recent decision by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) to impose financial restrictions on restaurants on a voluntary basis.

The governor’s office did not withdraw the lawsuit, but said that holding the hearing at a later date instead of Tuesday afternoon would make “productive and good faith negotiations with city officials.”

“Given the threat of economic harm and the immediate reaction of the Atlanta business community, this overreach by the mayor was our main concern and the main reason behind the litigation,” Hall said. “Now Mayor Bottoms has taken several opportunities to publicly explain that the reversal of Phase One is purely voluntary, and we appreciate this concession.”

Kemp issued an order this month banning locations to issue mask mandates as the state continues to experience an increase in coronavirus cases. Instead of issuing an order, Kemp has said he is “encouraging all Georgians“Use facial coatings.

The lawsuit asks a judge to revoke Bottoms’ orders that are more restrictive than Kemp’s and to prevent him from issuing more such orders.

It would also ban Bottoms from making public statements claiming that she has an authority that exceeds Kemp’s, and requiring city officials to enforce “all provisions” of Kemp’s existing orders.