Mayor orders rollback to Phase 1 reopening guidelines; governor calls it ‘unenforceable’

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tested positive for coronavirus.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tested positive for coronavirus.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has reinstated Phase 1 reopening guidelines after a steady surge in coronavirus cases.

In following Phase 1 guidelines, residents should wear face masks, restaurants should close dining rooms, non-essential city facilities should close and individuals are encouraged to leave home only for essential trips.

“Based upon the surge of COVID-19 cases and other data trends, pursuant to the recommendations of our Reopening Advisory Committee, Atlanta will return to Phase I of our reopening plan,” Bottoms said Friday in a statement. “Georgia reopened in a reckless manner and the people of our city and state are suffering the consequences.”

The rollback order comes as Georgia has set a series of record highs for new coronavirus cases this week. Nearly 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Friday, which was another record.

The Phase 1 guidelines conflict with guidance from the state level, where Gov. Brian Kemp has encouraged mask-wearing but asked cities not to mandate it. According to the governor’s office, Bottoms’ Phase 1 guidelines are unenforceable. Kemp’s executive orders legally supersede the mayor’s guidelines.

Kemp released a statement critical of the mayor’s plans.

“Mayor Bottoms’ action today is merely guidance — both non-binding and legally unenforceable. As clearly stated in the Governor’s executive order, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide,” the governor said.

Bottoms announced Monday that she tested positive for COVID-19, then signed an executive order mandating face coverings in public Wednesday.

Critics of the mask mandate noted that it would be legally unenforceable as well.

“We are looking into what we can do to enforce it outside of our public facilities,” Bottoms said of the mandate. “But we’re just asking people to do the right thing.”

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Credit: AJC

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