Atlanta mayor slams ‘bizarre’ lawsuit by Georgia governor to block mask mandate

The mayor of Atlanta is calling Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s move to sue the city over its mask mandate “bizarre,” and says she believes it is linked to President Trump’s recent visit to the state.

“The filing of a lawsuit is simply bizarre, quite frankly,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on the “Today” show, arguing that other cities, such as Savannah, had also issued mask orders as early as July 1, but Kemp only moved when Atlanta ordered masks.

GEORGIA GOV. KEMP SUES ATLANTA TO BLOCK MANDATORY MASK RULE, SAYING LOCAL LEADERS WANT TO ‘UNDERMINE ECONOMIC GROWTH’

Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, in a suit filed in state court late Thursday, argued that Bottoms overstepped her authority and must obey Kemp’s executive orders under state law.

Kemp has also clarified his executive orders to expressly block Atlanta and at least 14 other local governments across the state from requiring people to wear face coverings.

Bottoms had announced on July 10 that Atlanta would go back to “Phase 1” status as coronavirus cases surged in the city, arguing the state had been “recklessly” reopened too soon. The move threatened to shutter restaurant dining rooms and non-essential city facilities. At the same time, Bottoms claimed her orders were not “inconsistent” with Kemp’s.

READ KEMP’S CLARIFIED EXECUTIVE ORDERS

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp said in a statement. “These men and women are doing their very best to put food on the table for their families while local elected officials shutter businesses and undermine economic growth.”

But Bottoms said she believes it is related to President Trump’s recent visit to the state, where she criticized him for not masking up.

“I don’t think it is happenstance that this lawsuit came the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta and I pointed out he was violating city law by not having on a mask in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport,” she said.

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Asked if she thought the lawsuit was motivated by politics, Bottoms said: “I absolutely do, I think that he is putting politics over people.”

As of Thursday evening, over 3,100 people had died of COVID-19-related causes in Georgia, and there were at least 2,700 people hospitalized across the state due to the virus.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.