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Gov. Kemp blocks local governments from mandating masks in businesses; Decatur’s mayor reacts

COVID-19 Decatur Metro ATL

Gov. Kemp blocks local governments from mandating masks in businesses; Decatur’s mayor reacts

Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during an April 8 press conference. Image obtained via Georgia Public Broadcasting.

UPDATE: Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold on Aug. 20 provided the following statement to Decaturish about the governor’s new executive order. 

In regard to the Governor’s Executive Order (, I had some time this afternoon to take a look at it in reference to the City’s face covering ordinance.  I believe that the City of Decatur’s face covering ordinance that was adopted by the City Commission on August 16th is consistent with the Governor’s recent executive order.  Specifically, the City’s ordinance allows businesses to opt-out of enforcement which aligns with the Governor’s recent order.  Furthermore, the ordinance is consistent with the Governor’s order from last year that allows enforcement of local face covering ordinances at establishments that consent to enforcement.  We’ve already had dozens of businesses reach out for the City’s face covering ordinance signs indicating their willingness to comply with the ordinance.  The City Commission has a responsibility to protect the public’s health and welfare, and face coverings are an easy and effective tool for protecting our community from the spread of Covid-19. – Andrea Arnold

Here is our earlier story …

Decatur, GA —Gov. Brian Kemp on Aug. 19 announced a new executive order that prohibits local governments from making private businesses do anything to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that he said would ‘protect’ private businesses by barring local governments from forcing them to enact vaccine requirements, indoor capacity limits and mask rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” the AJC reported.

To read the full story, click here.

The executive order will likely affect a recent mask ordinance adopted by the Decatur City Commission. The Decatur City Commission at its Aug. 16 meeting unanimously voted to reinstate the city’s mask ordinance.

Businesses can opt out of the new ordinance, but the owners of these businesses must post signs notifying the public they’ve opted out.

“If an establishment [chooses] to opt out of enforcement, that establishment must post signage at all their public entrances stating that it does not consent to enforcement of the face covering requirement,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said.

Mayor Patti Garrett said the city will need to seek a legal opinion about whether its new ordinance is affected and how it will be affected.

“We’ve just found out about it, and we’re reviewing it to see how it would impact our ordinance,” she said. 

Garrett said the city is “doing what it takes to keep our community safe.”

“I’m disappointed if this impacts a local jurisdictions’ ability to make public health decisions consistent with CDC guidelines,” she said. 

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