Savannah Mayor Van Johnson issued an emergency order that will make wearing masks in public mandatory.
The order will go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. A person who violates the order could face a $500 fine.
“Frankly and honestly, I do not believe we have another choice,” Johnson said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Our seven-day rolling average (of new cases) is 43, which is a new record, and our 14-day rolling average is 33, which is a new record. The numbers speak for themselves. These are not the records Savannah wants or needs to break.”
Masks will be required inside commercial places within the city. There are exceptions to the order, including:
- In personal vehicles; religious establishments
- When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members;
- During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of 6 feet
- While drinking, eating, or smoking
- When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition
- When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services
- When a person is 10 years of age or younger
The point of this order is not to be punitive,” Johnson said. “If we see someone without a face covering, the first thing we will do is offer them one. If that person refuses the face covering, that’s a different issue entirely.”
Gov. Brian Kemp has strongly urged Georgians to wear masks but said Friday he would not make them mandatory statewide at this time.
On Monday, the governor extended the executive order for public health emergency and COVID-19 guidelines.