Guided tour operators in Savannah adapt to new mask mandate

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah’s mask mandate was reinstated this week, less than two months after the previous order was allowed to expire.

The latest mandate requires people to wear masks on any guided tours, including those on cars, buses, bikes and trolleys.

Even with major tour companies like Old Town Trolley, Old Savannah and Kelly Tours asking riders to wear masks, there’s a mixed bag of masked and unmasked riders riding on trolleys in the Historic District.

It’s a measure one local tour company thought was in the rear view.

Mickey Minick, Director of Sales for Kelly Tours said, “We thought these days were behind us, and we thought it was all good news and that the wind was at our back.”

But beginning Monday, the mask mandate was back, specifically including language requiring passengers on guided vehicle tours to mask up.

Minick said that’s put their tour guide drivers in a tough spot yet again.

“With our guests, they have strong feelings about the masks. And we’re telling them about the masks, there’s a mask mandate, please wear the mask, and giving out masks. And the challenge comes with the ones that don’t want to put on masks.”

Some riders WTOC spoke to Wednesday said with renewed mandates and revised CDC guidance, they can see how some might be frustrated or confused about having to mask up again, regardless of vaccine status.

“You’re asking to close Pandora’s Box. You opened it up, nobody has to wear masks if they’re vaccinated, but I don’t know if you’re vaccinated, you don’t know if I’m vaccinated, and you’re asking me to put a mask on. It’s just that uncertainty at this point,” said visitor Mike Schaffer.

Mayor Johnson did comment at Tuesday’s new conference about tour companies being a part of this mask mandate, saying it’s for that reason of not knowing peoples vaccine status that could lead to a potentially dangerous virus spreading event.

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