SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a new executive order on Saturday to replace his previous order. That order was set to expire Saturday evening at 11:59 p.m. This new order will take effect Sunday and last through August 31st.
His new order extends the duration for which medically fragile need to shelter in place, as well as continuing a ban on large gatherings.
That new order also has protections for business owners and private property. For businesses, the owner will still be able to decide whether to have a face-covering requirement.
Governor Kemp said in a release that while he supports local control, it must be properly balanced with property rights and personal freedoms.
Some business owners in Savannah say they will continue their mask policy despite the order giving them the option to choose.
The Savannah Bee Company says they’ve required masks since the beginning and would continue to do so even if the city didn’t have a mandate.
“We have mandated it since we’ve opened our doors since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Kevin Jenkinson with Savannah Bee Company. “We’re in this huge time of uncertainty and it’s like we just want to do the right thing. If for just any little bit it protects, whether us or other people, it’s like why not? We’re going to continue to do this as long as we deem it necessary.”
Owner Lisa Bolak of Savannah Belle Boutique says business has gone down for her since the mayor issued a mask mandate, but she says she cares more about safety and will continue to implement her mask requirement.
“If you don’t want to wear a mask then, unfortunately, we do ask you to maybe come back another time,” said Bolak.
The office of public communications with the City of Savannah released a statement last night saying, “The mask order remains in place in Savannah, with City marshals and police officers actively providing education on mask-wearing and offering masks to those who do not have one.”
The City says this has been the case since July 1st and that the city remains focused on encouraging compliance with the emergency mask order.
Despite that order, Governor Kemp also stated that a city or county government that has more than one hundred cases per one hundred thousand people over the past fourteen days may impose a local option face-covering requirement. While the local government may not issue mandates on private property, they can make masks mandatory on public property. Even if the City or County utilizes that power, it can’t be enforced by a business that “doesn’t consent to enforcement.”
The order includes several other provisions that apply to an individual’s right to wear a mask in a public setting. It states that the Local Option Face Covering Requirement will not be enforced at any polling place. This means that any person without a face covering cannot be denied entrance.
Additionally, if a city or county government institutes a Local Option Face Covering Requirement, a person will not be required to pay a fine greater than $50.
The governor’s order is extensive. You can view it in its entirety below.