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Tybee Island mayor prefers to take ‘positive approach’ instead of enforcing another mask mandate

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - With the City of Savannah announcing its decision Monday to reinstate a mask mandate, the question is if neighboring cities would follow suit.

Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions says as it stands right now, they will not be enforcing a mask mandate again. She says the city would prefer to take a positive approach.

Mayor Sessions says this means instead of having a mandate, people could see things like the “mask up Tybee” signs put up again or the “mask up Tybee” car driving around. She says the city will even continue to offer masks to businesses or anyone who needs them. The mayor says when it comes to a mandate, it’s just not feasible for the city to enforce it and that it was hard doing so when the county used to have one in place.

”We still are in a situation on Tybee where we have so many other laws that we’re trying to enforce during our season. We’re also looking at the middle of a season of potential hurricanes, so we are really trying to focus on things that we can do and that we’ve got to prepare for that are immediate,” said Mayor Sessions.

Of course, Mayor Sessions says safety is their main priority so she encourages people to get the vaccine if they can. She also says the city is hoping to plan another vaccination clinic soon, but she didn’t say when that would be.

The consensus for most Tybee businesses that WTOC spoke with is that the “mask required” signs won’t be going back up on their doors.

Now that some cities are enforcing masks again, several businesses on Tybee say they’ve been having this conversation with their employees lately. They say they’re asking customers what they’re comfortable doing.

Latitude 32 says they’re going to require masks again, but others say right now they’re not. Susan Kelleher is the owner of Seaside Sisters, and she says it’s a hard call to make, but since her employees are all vaccinated, she doesn’t feel it’s necessary.

She says about 10%-15% of her customers do wear masks and that it should be their own decision. She says she doesn’t want to have to be the door monitor any more.

“I don’t want any more push back from anybody. I’m not going down that road again and by now you should know what you need to do. The only way we’ll put on masks if all the sudden things just break loose and it’s almost what it was before. If my employees feel threatened by a virus then we’ll put masks back on for my employees’ protection,” Kelleher said.

City officials say they will continue to monitor the COVID-19 case numbers and give masks to businesses if they need them.

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