Chatham County extends state of emergency, mask mandate


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The local state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic in Chatham County has been extended through the end of September.

The mandate requires masks or face coverings, and social distancing of 6 feet, throughout the county.

Chairman Al Scott first issued the emergency order on Aug. 1.

Cases have declined, on average, since that time. In the last two weeks, Chatham County has seen a total of 758 cases compared to 1,607 cases from July 22 to Aug. 4.

Tuesday alone, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 64 new cases in Chatham County and three more deaths. Hospitalizations are now at 102.

And to date, there have been 7,129 cases, 124 deaths and 659 hospitalizations.

At the time Scott signed the initial measure, Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order suspended any mandatory mask mandates. Still, some municipalities in Georgia moved forward with the requirement.

The governor has since given local governments the ability to require face coverings. However, Kemp says fines included in local orders can’t exceed $50.

Chatham County’s order states that a fine of up to $500 could apply.

In the past, some have pointed to the “home rule” to justify discrepancies. The rule gives municipalities the freedom to determine what’s best for their communities under Georgia’s constitution.

In Chatham County, officials have decided it’s best to require maks or face coverings in public and at all restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, pharmacies and other establishments. Masks must cover the nose and mouth.

Face coverings are not required:

  • When wearing a mask or face covering causes or aggravates health conditions
  • When wearing a mask or face covering would prevent receiving personal services
  • When a person is five years old or younger
  • While engaged in an organized sports activity sponsored by a school, the County or a municipality within Chatham County and the sponsored sports activity is conducted in a manner that meets or exceeds the standard set forth by the school, county or city league requirements

The order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1, and will remain for 30 days unless extended or rescinded.

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