Many Savannah businesses will keep previous mask policies in place

FILE - A photo of the mask up sign hanging at Savannah City Hall.
FILE - A photo of the mask up sign hanging at Savannah City Hall.(WTOC)
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 1:50 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Savannah’s mask mandate is back.

This mandate is only for city-owned facilities, but Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says he is encouraging private businesses to participate and also require masks indoors.

However, most businesses WTOC spoke to on Thursday say this isn’t changing their mask policies.

Mayor Johnson made the announcement during his weekly news conference Wednesday, saying he’s taking the advice of local health experts to enforce masks again. But for businesses, this call is still up to them.

“I think for us we’re going to stick to what we’ve been doing. It’s been working,” Rivers and Glen Trading Co. manager Chad Dubose said.

Dubose said he’s glad they do get to make this choice for what’s best for their store.

“We’ve never, from the beginning, pressured customers to wear masks in the store. Most people when they come in and see other people wearing them, if they have masks, they put them on,” Dubose said.

Several businesses along Broughton Street said they have noticed that more of their customers are putting on their masks again before coming inside. Some businesses even said they did reinstate their mask-up policy after the mayor’s announcement. But still, places like The Funky Brunch Café are giving people the option.

“It’s been a personal choice. We have staff that prefer to wear masks and continue to wear masks while they’re here in the restaurant. We have other staff that are comfortable without wearing their masks,” Funky Brunch manager Precious Hutchens said.

As it has been from the beginning, Hutchens said they will change their policy as needed.

“If it’s mandated and goes back to how it was when it first happened, most definitely that’s what will happen,” she said.

Employees say at the end of the day, they want to do what they can to make their customers feel comfortable.

“If we have guests that would prefer their server to wear a mask, we have masks on hand in the restaurant,” Hutchens said.

“We don’t want to turn away customers because they believe something different because that’s not our job,” Dubose said.

WTOC did speak with some employees at other businesses who say they require their staff to wear masks and that’s been the case since day one, but that their customers can make the decision for themselves.

The city’s mandate is in effect from now until further notice.

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