The coronavirus has forced Georgia to revisit a 70-year-old law targeting the Ku Klux Klan.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order temporarily suspending 1951 legislation creating a misdemeanor offense for people who conceal their identities while on public property — a law passed to combat klansmen.
Kemp said the order allows Georgians to were protective facemasks during the coronavirus pandemic without having to worry about a run-in with the law.
“I signed an order to allow Georgians to wear masks in public to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 – in accordance with CDC guidance – without fear of prosecution,” Kemp tweeted.
The order as written legalized “wearing ‘a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer’ if that person is wearing such device for the purpose of complying with the guidance of any healthcare agency or to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Kemp, a Republican, had support from across the aisle as the number of coronavirus cases in the state continue to grow. Georgia has documented more than 14,900 confirmed cases along with more than 550 deaths.
“People are using whatever they have at home, bandannas, scarves, to put across their faces. I don’t want that to be misconstrued,” state Sen. Nikema Williams, a Democrat, told a local Fox affiliate. “I don’t want anyone to put their health and safety on the line from wearing a mask because they don’t want to be profiled in a grocery store or they’re picking up medicine at a pharmacy.”
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