Governor Brian Kemp

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced a new executive order Thursday allowing local businesses to ignore COVID-19 ordinances enacted by local governments.

"Local governments will not be able to force businesses to be the city's mask police, the vaccine police, or any other burdensome restriction that will only lead to employees being let go, revenue tanking, and businesses closing their doors," Kemp said at a news conference Thursday.

Kemp said local businesses are allowed to continue to follow local ordinances if they choose, saying he trusts Georgians to make the best decision for their own livelihoods.

"Small businesses across our state should not be punished by local governments just because they are trying to make a living, play their employees, and save their livelihoods," Kemp stated.

"I have been concerned about what we're hearing out of Savannah and Atlanta," Kemp said when asked if any particular local ordinance led him to this new executive order.

Both Savannah and Atlanta recently enacted citywide mask mandates in all public places.

"There are some across our state who want to go back into lockdown mode. They want to close businesses, enact new restrictions, and force businesses to upend their operations," he said.

Kemp made it clear that the executive order was specific to private sector businesses and that schools and local government facilities were "completely different" and not included in the order.

"Throughout the pandemic, I've been clear and consistent, we're going to protect lives and livelihoods. We're going to make sure hard-working Georgians can put food on the table for their families, but will also be able to continue to fight a once in a lifetime global pandemic."

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