Coronavirus mask patrol: Joint effort by city leaders, police to combat COVID-19

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – News 3 is taking a closer look at how Savannah is enforcing the new mask mandate that took effect Wednesday.

The Savannah Police Department is playing a key role in enforcement and educating visitors. News 3 observed officers in action Wednesday while they were passing out masks to those who didn’t have one.

Savannah city leaders and police are working to reduce the uptick in COVID-19 cases. The mask ordinance is in full effect. If you’re seen not wearing one you could face up to a $500 fine.

Wednesday was the first day of patrolling for the Savannah Police Department and they’re making sure everyone visiting knows the rules of the mask order.

“Our goal is just to educate and assist our citizens providing good information,” Corporal William Barnett with the Savannah Police Department said.

Officers are supplying masks to anyone who isn’t wearing one. Barnett said it’s about everyone’s safety. According to Mayor Van Johnson’s order, face coverings must be worn inside all commercial establishments within city limits.

“You must wear the mask on your face even outside certainly in public buildings. There are exceptions when you’re eating or drinking,” Barnett said.

Some visitors News 3 caught up with weren’t aware of the changes. SPD received some pushback but others were fine with the rules.

“I understand the coronavirus is still out there so we just have to make sure we have our masks on,” New Orleans resident, Marquise Collins said.

“Well if it’s mandatory yeah I don’t want to go to jail, don’t arrest me,” Los Angeles resident, Forrest Patrick said.

“It’s just a mask. I don’t mind wearing a mask if they ask me to,” Los Angeles resident, Simone Inghram said.

Simone Inghram and Forrest Patrick traveled to Savannah with their two children from California. That state has seen similar orders put in place but the two don’t agree with them fully.

“I think the masks is just putting a bandaid on a bullet,” Inghram said.

While city leaders continue to add new mandates, tourists say they want some kind of warning in advance. The city of Jacksonville, Florida has done something like this for curfews.

“They had sent a text message to everyone about a curfew even though we weren’t from Jacksonville and I think they should probably do the same thing here if they’re going to mandate that,” Patrick said.

While some don’t agree with the rules, SPD’s job until further notice is to make sure everyone within city limits is abiding by the rules.

“It’s just all about slowing down the spread of COVID-19,” Barnett said.

No citations were given out since it was the first day of the order.

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