Asked and Answered: Businesss facing COVID-19 related fines

Code Enforcement Officers prepare to hand out a citation to a business that was deemed...
Code Enforcement Officers prepare to hand out a citation to a business that was deemed non-essential by Mayor Van Johnson's Shelter in Place order.(source: WTOC)
Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 9:02 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -A $1,000 fine is what some Savannah businesses now face if they don’t follow the mayor’s “Shelter in Place” order.

Here’s the order in detail:

  • Dining rooms inside restaurants must remain closed.
  • Restaurants are only allowed to offer take-out or delivery.
  • For take-out orders, no more than 10 customers are allowed inside a dining establishment at one time.
  • All sidewalk cafe owners must cease operations.

That order extends to all “non-essential businesses” in the city. It began with a warning.

Last week, the city warned 50 businesses in Savannah to comply with the mayor's order.

On Monday, code enforcement went back to those businesses to follow-up. Code enforcement officers showed up at an auto detailing shop on Victory Drive.

It’s not considered an essential business and must close under the mayor’s Shelter in Place order.

“Van Johnson did this?” asks Tyrone Arkwright. “Oh, I need to talk to him.”

This is how Tyrone Arkwright, owner of JJ and Wise Auto Detailing, reacted to the news that he was being fined as much as $1,000 under the order.

The action taken right there is after Mayor Van Johnson ordered all non-essential businesses to close in Savannah.

“We have city police, city marshals, city agents going into places across the community and determining whether these businesses are breaking the rules,” said Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson had that message for citizens Friday night during a Facebook live video posted to his page. He says he takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and he wants to limit the spread in Savannah.

“This is the mayor’s decision," said Code Enforcement Officer Gary Bronstein. "It’s not us. It’s nothing personal. We need to have you guys shutdown. It’s deemed non-essential.”

That's the message code enforcement is caring out across the city.

Here's how the enforcement works:

If caught not following the rules, you will first receive a warning. It’s called a Notice to Correct Conditions. After that, code enforcement will check back, and if you’re caught again, you’ll receive a citation.

“I got a citation and I’ll make sure that tomorrow I’ll be home,” Arkwright said. “I won’t be up here. I guarantee it.”

“We’ve had people calling us telling us about these businesses that are operating outside that mandatory order," Mayor Johnson said. "And again, you will be cited for up to $1,000 for each occurance.”

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