Judge orders Atlanta mayor, governor into mediation over mask mandate

Source: WSB

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Georgia’s governor and Atlanta’s mayor have been ordered to talk out their differences before a lawsuit over COVID-19 restrictions gets too far down the road.

In an afternoon news conference, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addressed the latest developments on the lawsuit between Gov. Brian Kemp and Bottoms, along with the Atlanta City Council, over the city’s mask mandate and business restrictions.

Kemp filed the suit after Bottoms issued a mask mandate and a rollback to phase 1 of the city’s reopening plan.

Late Thursday afternoon, a Fulton County judge ordered both sides to attend mediation before Tuesday.

Bottoms said she and Kemp talked on Wednesday to work toward a resolution over the mandate.

“I had a very good conversation with the governor yesterday as we attempt to work toward a resolution,” Bottoms said.

The governor’s office confirmed the conversation as well, saying, “Yesterday, the mayor asked the governor to discuss a potential settlement. Their conversation was productive.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta restaurants say they need a clear and unified message from both the city and state to move forward.

“It has obviously caused a great deal of confusion for restauranteurs here in Atlanta,” said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Bremer told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that their industry took a massive hit during the pandemic, at one point laying off 300,000 employees.

Many of those are now back at work.

She insists there needs to be a unified voice from the city and state, and welcomes any settlement in the lawsuit.

“Having consistent rules that they’re easily understood by restaurants to follow, because restaurants are concerned about the health and well-being of their workers as well as their guests and they want to follow the rules. They just need to know what the rules are,” Bremer said.

Bottoms insisted her orders were only recommendations, and she hoped she and the governor can find common ground.

“We are in agreement that masks save lives and we will continue to work together to try and iron out those things that we disagree on,” Bottoms said.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Bottoms said she hopes they can work out a deal before then.