Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Friday defended his decision to effectively stop local governments from enforcing mask mandates, emphasizing that “government is not going to be the answer to all people’s problems.”
The Republican governor defended his decision to prevent local governments from enforcing mask mandates via fines and possible jail time, emphasizing his belief in personal responsibility rather than overreaching government edicts.
“Now I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate. And while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” Kemp said, asking mayors to instead enforce his existing order and use their influence to build support for wearing masks, rather than issuing threats.
He said in part:
Last week on a call with mayors and commissioners around the state, I issued a charge to local leaders and I’ll do it again today. Instead of issuing mandates that are confusing and unenforceable, I’m asking all local leaders to enforce the current executive order. Enforce the rules that we have put in place to keep employees and customers see at local businesses. Enforce the provisions that ensure folks are staying six feet apart at large gatherings. Enforce measures to protect the medically fragile. And use your bully pulpit, your social media channel, and your connections with the local media to help build support for wearing a mask when needed.
“For our local chambers of commerce, rotary clubs and other community organizations, please help us echo this call. Encourage those you represent and urge those you serve to double down and mask up,” he added.
When asked if he is open to changing his mind and making masks mandatory, Kemp argued that it would be absurd to “add another mandate that’s not going to be enforced in communities that haven’t enforced other orders.”
“Government is not going to be the answer to all people’s problems,” Kemp said. “I have grave concern about our young people and other people getting so reliant on the government that we lost the basis on what this country was founded on, and that’s freedom and liberty and opportunity for anyone. Anyone.”
“And everybody has the liberty to do the right thing right now and I’m asking them to do it. And that’s to wear a mask,” he added. “But even before the whole make issue came up — you know what works better than anything? Better than a mask? Social distancing. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can spread the virus.”
“The mask mandates are unenforceable,” he said in response to another question. “And what people should be thinking about is the livelihoods of those businesses, those hardworking Georgians that are in those businesses. They are paying the taxes that we are using to respond to this”:
Governor Brian Kemp / Facebook
Kemp’s remarks follow this week’s controversial executive action, which effectively stripped local governments from enforcing mask mandates, drawing outrage from mayors across the state. The governor took his move a step further on Thursday, filing a lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) over her citywide mask mandate, which threatens a fine and possible jail time for noncompliance.
“The governor has simply overstepped his bounds and his authority, and we’ll see him in court,” Bottoms said, expressing confidence that she “will prevail.”