Savannah, Georgia, Mayor Van Johnson said he was "furious" and "at a loss for words" when he heard Gov. Brian Kemp was suspending all local government mask mandates despite the rise in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state.
"Not only are we fighting coronavirus on one hand, it appears as if we're fighting our state on the other hand. It made absolutely no sense to me," Johnson told CNN on Thursday.
Some context: Kemp's executive order voids masks mandates imposed by some local governments. It also extended the state's public emergency and said face coverings are "strongly encouraged," but not required.
Savannah was the first city in Georgia to mandate masks, Johnson said.
He said he will continue to enforce the mask mandate in the city saying, "our order still stands."
"This just really handcuffs us and it's really not the time to be fighting each other. We should be focused on fighting this virus," Johnson said.
He said he has heard from business owners that they appreciate the mask mandate because it provides them with legal cover to refuse service to someone who won't wear a mask.
But, Johnson said the most important reason why masks are so important, is because they are a proven way to stop the spread of the virus.
"We're going to do all we can to make sure we protect our citizens. This is what this is all about. It has nothing to do with politics. It's about protecting our folks," he said.