Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms continue to be at odds over how to handle the coronavirus pandemic. The latest development in ongoing tensions resulted in Kemp announcing on Thursday evening that he will file a suit against the city of Atlanta due to the ordinance issued by the mayor requiring the use of masks in public spaces.
According to 11Alive, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said that the lawsuit was “on behalf of Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.”
“These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth,” the statement added.
Lance Bottoms, who is recovering from the novel coronavirus herself, brushed off the lawsuit, quipping on Twitter that “A better use of taxpayer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”
She added, “3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19.”
Bottoms also doubled down in an online news conference, noting, “I am not afraid of the city being sued, and I’ll put our policies up against anyone’s any day of the week.”
Kemp has shied away from issuing a statewide mask mandate, although he said his office would “strongly encourage” that residents wear one.
Atlanta and a few other cities across the state rejected the governor’s stance, moving to make their own mask requirements, although Bottoms and the members of the Atlanta City Council are the only ones named in the lawsuit.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, who is also insisting that his city’s mask mandate stands, regardless of Kemp’s order blocking them, slammed Kemp for “overstepping.”
“I’m not going to mince words,” Johnson said on Thursday, according to WSAV. “We believe that Governor Kemp is overstepping his authority. With that said, our emergency declaration still stands.”