Georgia governor allows local mask mandates, with limits

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks about the importance of mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Brian Kemp was in Dalton Thursday morning, along with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams as part of his statewide "Wear a Mask" tour. He's going around to different COVID hot spots and urging people to wear masks.

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 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 requirement if it has had 100 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days. Only two of Georgia's 159 counties were below that threshold, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.