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Savannah businesses respond to reinstated face mask mandate

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:28 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The news that the mask mandate is being reinstated in Savannah took some businesses by surprise. Some said they didn’t know about the change while others were still figuring out what it means and how it will impact them.

This all comes after what some of these owners tell me has been a difficult year.

“I could sit here and talk about a novela of what’s went on within the last year, but as a small businesses, as a Savannahian, as a Broughton Street business, we’re here and we’ve gone through things before, but most of all we show up and suit up and put out,” said Ruel Joyner, owner of 24e Design Co.

Joyner says they are starting to build back after the past year and a half. He says Savannah Mayor Van Johnson’s change to the mask guidance won’t change anything in his store.

“I think it’s great that the mayor is being proactive, but you know I think overall that people just need to use common sense and most of all stay calm,” said Joyner.

Just down the road is Namaste Savannah where staff are back to wearing their masks despite being fully vaccinated. They say they aren’t sure what else will be required or how it changes the return of customers they have seen.

“It has been good. The flow of customers coming back to normal is not at that level, but I’m not sure how this is going to impact. I think certainly the way this might be impacting the businesses like mine,” said Namaste co-owner Loken Chand.

One thing the Nepalese fusion restaurant doesn’t want to see is a return to capacity limits, so they hope to see more people get vaccinated.

“I’m hoping that day does not come, but again if the vaccination rate goes up and then everybody follows what they need to be doing, we should be okay,” said Chand.

When it comes to those going to patronize businesses in town, they have mixed reactions.

“A lot of people are going to lose business over it I think. Some people won’t go into restaurants and won’t go on our tours because they got to mask up,” said Keith Chapman, a resident of Savannah.

“I’m kind of indifferent. If I go to a bigger city because to me Savannah still is small. If I went to New York or LA or something I would certainly mask but I think everyone here is pretty spread out,” said Erika Miller, who is visiting from Florida.

While Mayor Johnson is asking businesses to help, his executive order only requires people in specific spaces like city buildings, tours and hospitals.

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