SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The city of Savannah is “very concerned” about a recent influx of visitors as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Mayor Van Johnson said on MSNBC Monday.
“As you said, Savannah is a place where 15 million visitors usually come in non-pandemic years. We recognize a huge uptick in people visiting us from all over the country who are COVID-weary, and they’re ready to come and live their best lives in our city,” the mayor said in his interview with Craig Melvin.
“Many of them come and they’re not wearing masks,” he continued. “They’re not aware that Savannah’s had a mask mandate since July 1.”
The City canceled the St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival that typically draws in thousands, but that didn’t stop visitors. Johnson said officials handed out over 20,000 masks in recent weekends to avoid handing out tickets.
“I think we’re all concerned, not today, but what happens two weeks from now when we actually see the results of what’s happened over the last two weekends?” he said.
Prior to St. Patrick’s Day, the mayor said all options were on the table, including bar closures and curfews. Ultimately, no further action was taken.
Meanwhile, Johnson said visitors are welcome at one location — the new mass vaccination site in Savannah.
“We’re encouraging people in the area, not only in Chatham County, which Savannah resides but in the neighboring counties to take advantage of the site,” he said. “Take advantage of this opportunity. If we want to get past covid, we’re going to have to do this.”