Johnson vows increased weekend patrol as Kemp lifts state COVID-19 restrictions


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson said the Savannah Police Department will ramp up weekend patrol following large crowds over the weekend.

“They are everywhere, I mean everywhere,” Johnson said. He also recognized the benefits the crowds brought to Savannah businesses but expressed concerns about a potential uptick in community spread.

“These folks are traveling and they’re living their best lives and their rates are going up,” Johnson said discussing recent reports of rising cases of COVID-19 in younger people.

He also urged residents to continue to practice social distancing and wear masks in public in response to Gov. Brian Kemp’s rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions last week.

One executive order eliminates a ban on gatherings and shelter-in-place requirements. Another reduces social distancing requirements in bars, restaurants, movie theaters and group fitness classes. Finally, law enforcement is now prohibited from closing an organization for non-compliance with COVID-19 provisions.

“It is too early for us to begin waiving the victory flag,” Johnson said. “It is too early for us to do a dance in the end-zone.” Adding the city will reinstate restrictions at a moment’s notice if a rise in COVID-19 infections is seen.

Johnson said Savannah’s COVID-19 safety precautions will remain the same and follow guidance from health experts both locally and nationally.

He’s pleading with private businesses to comply with safety guidelines.

Watch the mayor’s full press conference below:

Employees at the Georgia Tasting Room said they did their best to follow the guidelines over the busy holiday weekend.

“It has been stressful trying to control the crowds because we still have a mask policy within our private business,” said Rachel Livings, manager of the Georgia Tasting Room.

Livings says, on the bright side, they’re making money and business is almost back to normal.

“It has been very interesting,” said Livings. “It’s been hard keeping up with how the traffic goes and you know trying to gage what are we going to get this time around.”

The unpredictability of Savannah’s tourism scene could lead to more restrictions, Johnson says as always, it’ll depend on the science.

Also discussed, was the new mass vaccination site at the Savannah Civic Center opens Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The site will administer 1,100 Moderna vaccines daily, according to Johnson.

“This will certainly help us as we move and push forward toward herd immunity,” Johnson said, adding he will receive his final dose Friday.

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