Georgia governor backs out of hearing on Atlanta mask order

FILE - In this July 17, 2020, file photo, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp returns to his office after giving a coronavirus briefing at the Capitol in Atlanta. Kemp says he's withdrawing a request for an emergency order that would block Atlanta from ordering people to wear masks in public or imposing other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor says he’s withdrawing a request for an emergency hearing in a lawsuit that aims to block the state’s largest city from ordering people to wear masks in public or imposing other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesman for Gov. Brian Kemp announced late Monday that the Republican wanted “to continue productive, good faith negotiations” with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council. The Republican governor argues local leaders cannot impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders. The underlying lawsuit would remain pending, even if the request for a hearing is withdrawn.