ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor, who has opposed local mask mandates and even sued over one in Atlanta, has signed a new executive order that allows local governments to enact mask requirements to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
As with previous orders, the one issued by Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday says residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, except when eating, drinking or exercising outside.
But unlike previous orders, this one allows local governments in counties that have reached a “threshold requirement” to require the wearing of masks on government-owned property.
A county meets that threshold if it has had 100 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Very few of the state’s counties are below that threshold.
The order says mask mandates can’t lead to fines, fees or penalties against private businesses or organizations. For individuals, the order says penalties cannot include a fine more than $50 or prison time.
The order also extends shelter-in-place requirements for people who are considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.
It also bans gatherings larger than 50 people if individuals are closer than 6 feet apart.