Savannah leaders discuss COVID-19 safety ahead of Donald Trump Jr. rally

Local News

HUTCHINSON ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Donald Trump Jr. recently announced Savannah will be part of his five-city, three-day “Make America Great Again” tour.

The Trump campaign says he is making the stop in support of his father’s re-election bid.

Because the Savannah Convention Center, the site of the event, is owned by the state of Georgia, Mayor Van Johnson says the city cannot enforce its mask mandate or other COVID-19 safety protocols inside the building.

“They can turn up while they’re in there, but when they leave they need to wear a mask,” he warned.

Johnson and Coastal Health District Director Dr. Lawton Davis say they were not consulted before the announcement was made.

Davis says Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s state of emergency — which trumps all local laws — is still in effect.

The order “limit[s] gatherings of more than 50, if social distancing cannot be maintained,” explained Dr. Davis. “And I think if you can maintain social distancing, which the standard  is 6 feet, then you can have more than 50.”

WSAV has reached out to the governor’s office to clarify how the rule applies to the Savannah Convention Center. Representatives have not returned our requests for comment.

Media representatives with the Savannah Convention Center could not answer WSAV’s questions about the event and safety protocols and, instead, referred us to members of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

When asked how many people they are expecting at the rally and if social distancing would be enforced, Trump’s campaign sent WSAV the following response:

On background, masks and hand sanitizer will be given to every attendee at the event.”

Ken Farnaso, Deputy National Press Secretary

“If you’re going to attend a large gathering, certainly be cognizant of what’s going on around you. Wear a mask,” said Davis.

The Chatham County Police Department says marine patrollers have been asked to monitor the Savannah River during the event.

Savannah Police Department (SPD) says officers will escort the president’s son and his team to and from the convention center. A convoy of officers will avoid any major, long-term road closures.

SPD is not handling security inside the building. A representative says “since the event is at the STCC which is state property, they will handle the security at the site with their own security staff.”

Trump Jr.’s event begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Doors to the venue open an hour prior.

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