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Augusta leaders stress COVID-19 safety for holiday season

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:15 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As the garland decorations come up, city officials found some residents are already letting their guard come down.

Fewer are wearing masks, and fewer are in compliance to do so.

“Some of that may just be fatigue. We’ve been dealing with this for nine months now, it really is wearing on a lot of people,” said Brandon Garrett, District 8 commissioner.

As the holidays approach, so does the season for travel, shopping, and larger family gatherings.

But with Richmond County at more than 8,600 COVID-19 cases, and more than 300 of them coming in the first week of November alone -- Augusta leaders say now more than ever, the public must follow safety measures.

“We also have to look at the fact that we love our loved ones, and we like to be around them. But if we’re around the, there’s a possibility they may not be here next year,” said Dennis Williams, District 2 commissioner.

Despite officials seeing lower compliance across the city, we only found four formal complaints on file with Augusta 311. This is where people reported concerns of guidelines not being followed at businesses.

“But I still believe most people try to comply with the rules and regulations,” Williams said.

So far, the city says deputies have relied on encouragement instead of enforcement, like penalties up to $100 for not wearing masks

“I’m still very much in line with individual responsibility and I’m hoping that people will be responsible for themselves as well as just taking care of their fellow man,” Williams said.

“The whole purpose around Maskup Augusta was to encourage people to protect one another, that way we’re available to keep our economy open,” he said.

Commissioners like these two are continuing the Maskup Augusta campaign with public reminders through signage and billboards, while the Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis and Sheriff Richard Roundtree are set tomorrow to urge more COVID-19 compliance across the city to avoid a major fall surge.

Augusta leaders will hold a news conference Friday morning to stress the need to have a socially distant Thanksgiving and Christmas. They will also discuss the possibility of extending the mask ordinance and changing penalties.

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