SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Savannah Mayor Van Johnson reiterated his stance on face masks in a meeting on Tuesday, citing the importance of wearing coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Mayor also says he believes cases have reached a level locally that mandating masks in public spaces is now necessary. He addressed this on Monday.
The details on enforcing a mask mandate in public spaces have yet to be worked out, but Mayor Johnson is adamant about the public taking the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus more seriously.
Mayor Johnson did say it could be a good opportunity for police to get masks to people who need them, and enforce an ordinance should they refuse.
“I think this is a good opportunity for law enforcement to do good social work in terms of offering people face coverings for them to be in compliance with the order,” he said.
Mayor Van Johnson says it’s his hope private businesses will require masks on their own. This proposed mandate, should it go into effect, could only be enforced within Savannah City limits, so not in any other municipality in Chatham County or unincorporated areas.
“If you’re not wearing a face covering, unless you have an underlying health condition or some condition that keeps you from wearing one, what you’re really saying is you don’t care if others get sick from you. And that is a problem for us. That is not neighborly, and that lack of concern for others is definitely not Savannah.”
Mayor Johnson says he believes Savannah will be able to make a legal argument to take this measure beyond the Governor’s executive order, which is still in effect, and explained why.
“Sometimes there are opportunities for us to follow, this is an opportunity for us to lead. We believe we’ve found a legal path in which we can do this and still be compliant to the Governor’s order. This is not in rebellion to his order, this is complimentary to his order.”
The order is not in effect and not even drawn up yet. That will depend on how quickly city staff, police, and health department officials can work on that ordinance draft. It could be in front of council at this Thursday’s meeting for approval.