Augusta Commission considers COVID situation, cigar lounges

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 8:54 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:49 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Augusta Commission met today, hearing an update on the COVID situation here, among other things.

Dr. Stephen Goggins, health district director, told commissioners the current wave of cases in Richmond County — fueled by the super-contagious delta variant — is trending up.

The peak during the last surge in cases was about 300 a day in January. We’re still below that, but he says there are no signs of cases trending downward.

As far as local vaccinations, the best day was about 2,500 vaccines a day in Richmond County, but now we’re seeing only about 200 people getting vaccinated a day.

Vaccination is going well for those 65 and older but not so well with younger ages, he said.

He said people should get vaccinated, wear masks indoors per CDC recommendations, encourage others to get vaccination and get tested for COVID.

On social distancing, he said 6 feet is still appropriate, and 3 feet is OK in school settings.

Chances of a fourth vaccine are possible, but not likely to come to the U.S. soon, he said.

Afterward, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. said he sees no need for a mask mandate at this point in the city.

Cigar bars

The commission also considered a motion to amend the smoke-free workplace ordinance to allow for the establishment of cigar lounges.

Under the amendments:

  • Cigar bars would have to get 20 percent of their annual revenue from the sale of cigars. If not, the business certificate would be revoked/suspended.
  • The lounge/bar must be its own entity and have its own front door. No restaurant can add a cigar lounge in the back for example.
  • Cigarettes would not be allowed in cigar lounges.
  • Ideally, cigars would have to be purchased from the bar itself, not brought in by customers.

This motion is only to amend and prepare a draft policy. The amended policy would still have to be adopted after the draft is presented before cigar lounges are officially allowed.

The amendments passed, 8-2 with Commissioners Sammie Sias and Seas Frantom voting against them.

The cigar bar measure was opposed by a coalition of groups that sent a letter to commissioners this week. Here’s the letter:

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