Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp dropped his lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council on Thursday after suing the mayor over mask mandates and other coronavirus protections re-instated in July.
“In light of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' concession regarding the city’s Phase One roll-back plan and following her refusal in mediation to further negotiate a compromise, the Attorney General’s Office has filed to withdraw our pending lawsuit,” a statement from the governor’s office said Thursday.
Kemp said he was trying to protect businesses.
“I sued the City of Atlanta to immediately stop the shuttering of local businesses and protect local workers from economic instability,” Kemp said. “For weeks, we have worked in good faith with Mayor Bottoms, and she agreed to abandon the city’s Phase One roll-back plan, which included business closures and a shelter in place order.”
Kemp filed a lawsuit against Bottoms and the City Council after the Atlanta mayor issued an order on July 10, pushing the city back into Phase One as coronavirus cases started to increase, requiring people to stay home and wear a mask in public. Restaurants and businesses were allowed to be open for curbside pick-up only.
Bottoms, a Democrat, told CNN in an interview last month that she believed the lawsuit was a “personal retaliation” because he "did not sue the city of Atlanta. He filed suit against myself and our City Council personally."
In a brief filed by Bottoms responding to the lawsuit, she defended Atlanta’s mask mandate and said the governor’s suit was antithetical and did not serve the public interest because rescinding her order could increase the spread of COVID-19 and the number of lives damaged and lost to it.
Bottoms’ office could not be immediately reached for comment.
“Unfortunately, the Mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia,” Kemp said Thursday.
Kemp is expected to sign an executive order Saturday that will allow cities to enforce mask mandates but only on government property – meaning Bottoms would not be able to require businesses to adhere to mask regulations, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bottoms reportedly called Kemp’s statement “woefully inaccurate” but noted that she was “grateful that this lawsuit has been withdrawn and the time and resources of our city and state can be better used to combat COVID-19.”
Georgia has reported over 228,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 4,500 deaths.
Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, is located in Fulton County and has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state, with more than 21,000 confirmed cases – 3,400 of which have occurred in the last two weeks.