‘Home Rule’ cited as legal support for Savannah mask mandate

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More than 100 cities across the state of Georgia have issued similar mask mandates to the order in Savannah that has been in place for nearly a month. The executive director of the Georgia Municipality Association (GMA), said they believe the state’s constitution supports cities having the right to issue mask mandates.

The GMA said the “Home Rule,” stated under Georgia’s constitution, gives local municipalities the right to determine what is best for their communities. Alderman Nick Palumbo said this state law could support cities, like Savannah, who are imposing mandates that go against the governor’s executive order.

The association issued a legal brief on July 21 to uphold city’s abilities to require masks. Palumbo said the City Council wants to work in partnership with Gov. Brian Kemp, but also added his belief that the city is taking actions that they believe will be the best for protecting community members.

“It comes down to every single one of us. We’ve got to fight it on the beaches, we’ve got to fight it in the streets, we’ve got to fight it in our homes to make sure that everybody is safe because it is something that impacts every single resident in our country and every Savannahian that’s here; and we’re asking you to chip in. Be a part of the experience, you know, help fight this thing together,” Palumbo stated.

City officials said they’ve passed out more than 1,000 face masks so far, and with the donations from the state of New York, the city has thousands more available. Savannah Police officers are also carrying masks with them. Citations will only be issued if people do not comply with an officer’s requests.

Palumbo said the city has not had to issue a single citation so far.

Free face masks are available at Savannah City Hall, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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