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Gov. Kemp extends public health emergency into September; renews COVID-19 restrictions

The new orders were signed by Gov. Kemp on Friday, July 31

ATLANTA — Following recent increases in the number of coronavirus cases in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the state's public health emergency once again, through Sept. 10.

He's also extending coronavirus restrictions - ones that require social distancing, ban gatherings of more than 50 people unless there is six feet between each person, outline mandatory criteria for businesses, and require sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile. That order runs through 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2020

The new executive orders come on Friday, the very day the coronavirus restrictions were set to expire. The governor's new order goes into effect immediately.

"The fight against COVID-19 continues, and these executive orders reaffirm our commitment to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians," Kemp said in his evening announcement. "As our state ramps up testing, expands hospital surge capacity, and provides staffing, supplies, and resources to cities and counties throughout Georgia, we urge local officials to enforce the rules and restrictions detailed in these orders."

Kemp's last extension came in the midst of his legal battle with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over mask use in public spaces.

The city of Atlanta, along with more than a dozen jurisdictions across the state have passed local ordinances mandating mask use in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

While the leaders of many states have imposed mask restrictions, Kemp is opposed to a statewide mask order, saying his office would "strongly encourage" mask use by Georgians.

When Kemp issued his last executive order on July 16, he explicitly suspended all of the local mask ordinances, saying that no municipality could enact an order any more or less restrictive than his executive order.

Bottoms rejected the governor's order, saying her mandate for the city of Atlanta, which includes passengers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, would stand.