Defiance grows as Georgia governor blocks local mask rules

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ATLANTA (AP) — Mayors in Atlanta and other Georgia cities deepened their defiance of Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday, saying they want their requirements for people to wear masks in public to remain in place, even after the Republican governor explicitly forbade cities and counties from mandating face coverings.

Officials in at least 15 Georgia cities and counties, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, had ordered masks during the coronavirus pandemic, and many are venting outrage at Kemp swatting down their efforts.

“The mayor’s order remains in effect, as science and data will continue to drive the city’s decisions,” Bottoms spokesperson Michael Smith wrote in a text. “Masks save lives.”

Kemp doesn’t disagree, saying he strongly supports mask-wearing to combat the spread of COVID-19 infections. He traveled the state earlier this month to encourage face coverings. But he has maintained for weeks that cities and counties don’t have the power to require masks in public places, saying no local order can be more or less restrictive than his statewide mandates.

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