Savannah City Council approves renewed emergency declaration for masks

ByMariah Congedo|November 12, 2020 at 5:37 PM EST - Updated November 12 at 6:52 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Council approved the mayor’s renewed emergency declaration for face masks to be worn in public within the city due to the ongoing pandemic.

A “Mask Up” sign has been hanging on the front of city hall for months, but Mayor Van Johnson says he’s still not seeing enough compliance.

On Tuesday, Mayor Johnson announced his plan to extend the mask mandate in the city.

“At the end of the day, we’re not playing for today we’re playing for tomorrow. We’re playing for next year and so we’re going to keep our community safe,” Mayor Johnson said.

The renewal, that council approved in Thursday’s council meeting, clarifies certain aspects of the existing order to deal with issues the city says they’ve witnessed.

“It clarifies that masks are required in Savannah and that employees interacting with the public must wear a mask and finally, that walking tours do not fall under the exercise exception. You’re not exercising, you’re on a tour,” Mayor Johnson said.

Mayor Johnson says the city understands, under the Governor’s order, that they can’t regulate certain entities but that the city will manage what they can.

“They’re expecting waves. Cities are being hit again in big waves. We certainly don’t want that to be with us. The wearing of a mask means the difference, I believe, in businesses being open and businesses being shut down,” Mayor Johnson said.

The city’s mandate still requires masks be worn in commercial establishments in the city, when people occupy any outdoor public space, which applies to guided tours and that all employees in restaurants, retail stores, salons, pharmacies and grocery stores in the city must wear a mask when interacting with the public.

“I seek to also approve your resolution and ratify your previous emergency declaration,” Alderwoman Linda Wilder Bryan said.

The city says failing to comply with the mandate can be punishable by a fine of no more than $500. Of course, the city still outlines instances where face masks aren’t required including during physical activity or if it aggravates a health condition, among a few others.

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