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‘The numbers speak for themselves’: Savannah mandates masks

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson signed executive order requiring face masks in public,
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson signed executive order requiring face masks in public,(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 1:23 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Mayor Van Johnson gave his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

During this week’s update, Johnson said he sent a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp to notify him that he’s signing an emergency order requiring wearing masks in public spaces within the city of Savannah.

“Frankly and honestly, I do not believe we have another choice,” Mayor Johnson said. “Our seven-day rolling average (of new cases) is 43, which is a new record, and our 14-day rolling average is 33, which is a new record. The numbers speak for themselves. These are not the records Savannah wants or needs to break. This necessitates a substantial paradigm shift and corresponding drastic action to keep Savannah safe during these very delicate times.”

The order goes into effect Wednesday, July 1, at 8 a.m. and will remain in effect until further notice.

According to the order:

  • All persons entering a commercial establishment in the City must wear a face covering or mask while inside the establishment. This does not apply to religious establishments. However, face coverings are highly recommended during religious activity.
  • All restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the City must require their employees to wear a face-covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public.
  • Any person who is unable to safely wear a face-covering due to age, an underlying health condition, or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others is exempt from this order.

Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

  • In personal vehicles
  • When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members
  • During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of 6 feet from other people with whom they do not cohabitate at all times
  • While drinking, eating, or smoking
  • When wearing face-covering causes or aggravates a health condition
  • When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services
  • When a person is 10 years of age or younger

The city says any person who fails to comply shall be guilty of a civil infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $500.

“The point of this order is not to be punitive,” Mayor Johnson said. “If we see someone without a face covering, the first thing we will do is offer them one. If that person refuses the face covering, that’s a different issue entirely.”

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