Savannah mayor deputizes 25 employees to issue citations for mask ordinance violations

*(source: WTOC)
Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 1:47 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Mayor Van Johnson addressed the possibility of a City-wide shutdown along with bringing back restricted hours for businesses like bars.

The Mayor says those steps will be taken after the City is out of all other options, because he knows something like a city-wide shutdown could be a death knell for a small, local business.

“Is that acceptable collateral damage for us? Which is why we’ve been hesitant, because again, the answer would be no, we want everybody to be able to survive.” said Mayor Johnson. “And so to me, that’s why it’s so easy just to say, you know what, if we don’t want to be inconvenienced, just wear a doggone mask.”

The Mayor says more action to stem the growth in the number of COVID-19 cases might be needed soon.

”Chatham County 7 day rolling average of new cases is about 128 after peaking on Friday at nearly 137,” said Mayor Johnson. ”Remember the number we needed to go back to phase 2 was 6.”

The Mayor pointed to other cities around Georgia putting tougher restrictions on businesses, something he says is on the table in Savannah.

Mayor Johnson says the City is communicating regularly with health officials and they continue to monitor and watch the coronavirus spread locally. As for the Mayor’s emergency mask order, he says too many people still aren’t getting it.

“From what I’ve seen it seems like our citizens are getting it, it seems like our visitors may not be,” said Mayor Johnson. “And so we recognize we have to be more aggressive in this. We’re engaging other employees into this effort.”

Mayor Johnson says 25 Savannah workers have been ‘deputized’ as city marshals, and are able to write citations for violating the mask order, though he wasn’t aware of any citations being written by them just yet.

The Mayor did reiterate the emergency order isn’t meant to be a punishment, and they’ll continue to be politely aggressive in asking folks to mask up.

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