Battle over Atlanta mask mandate goes before judge Tuesday

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:47 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - A judge plans to hear arguments on an emergency request by Georgia’s governor to stop Atlanta from enforcing a mandate to wear a mask in public and other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic while a lawsuit on the issue is pending.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Ellerbe has scheduled a hearing for 11 a.m. Tuesday on Gov. Brian Kemp’s motion. Because of “the current public health crisis” the hearing will be held by videoconference, Ellerbe’s order says.

The legal battle has been between Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor took to Twitter on Sunday about an emergency injunction requested by Kemp to restrain her from talking to the media press about her city’s mandate that people wear masks in public.

The injunction is part of the lawsuit Kemp filed last week against her and the Atlanta City Council for implementing a mask mandate he says is more restrictive than his executive order. His order states that local governments can’t enact rules that are stricter than his.

More than a dozen cities in Georgia have mask mandates in place, including Augusta.

Bottoms says she feels like the state’s capital city is being singled out:

"There were other cities in our state who instituted mask mandates, and he did not push back against them. I don't know if it's because perhaps they were led by men, or if it's perhaps because of the demographic in the city of Atlanta. I don't know what the answers are, but what I do know is that the science is on our side."

Kemp says he filed the injunction to stop what he says is conflicting messages about what the public and businesses should and should not do when it comes to wearing a mask.

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