Last Wednesday evening Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 07.15.20 striking down any and all county and municipal masks orders in the state. Locally The Cities of Hinesville, Midway and Flemington had issued orders.
Kemp’s new Executive Order states, “Pursuant to Code section 38-3-28, other than orders issued to the Authority of Code Section 38-3-60 et seq., any state county or municipal law, order, ordinance, rule or regulation that requires persons to wear face coverings, masks, face shields or any other Personal Protective Equipment while in places of public accommodation or on public property are suspended to the extent that they are more restrictive than this Executive Order.”
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson publicly criticized Kemp’s decision tweeting the following message, “It is officially official. Governor Kemp does not give a damn about us.”
Johnson (D), was the first local official to issue a mask mandate.
As a result of Kemp’s Order the City of Hinesville discussed the matter at their July 16 meeting and amended their order to match the state’s Executive directives. The Mayor and Council said the City is still going to strongly encourage that people coming into City Hall and other government buildings wear masks and follow the social distancing guidelines and protocols set forth in each building.
Last week the Liberty County commissioners avoided a conflict with the Governor’s order by defeating a strict proposed county ordinance.
Commissioner Gary Gilliard, who describes his view as “all masks all the time,” made a motion requiring the wearing of face masks for coronavirus control throughout unincorporated Liberty County.
Gilliard’s motion drew only the vote of Chairman Donald Lovette, failing two votes to four. Commissioner Justin Frasier, after discussion, then made a successful motion to require masking in county buildings and to launch an information campaign aimed at promoting use of masks and other safety practices throughout Liberty County. Frasier’s measure passed unanimously.
The campaign will encourage staying home, wearing face coverings, washing hands, keeping physical distances and other ways to avoid infection.
Officials and volunteers will meet remotely Thursday to plan the campaign.
While the City and County can no longer mandate the wearing of face coverings in public places, privately owned businesses can require masks to be worn inside their stores and shops. Several National retailers are now or will soon be requiring masks. Effective July 20 a mask or face covering must be worn to enter Walmart.
Kroger, CVS, Lowe’s Home Improvement Store, company owned Starbucks locations and Dollar Tree are also mandating masks be worn in their stores, most becoming effective this week.
Businesses that are requiring masks be worn in their stores must post signs at the entrances to inform the public.