SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Monday Morning, Mayor Van Johnson signed an emergency order announcing the return of Savannah’s mask mandate. Requiring face coverings to be worn in City of Savannah government buildings, hospitals, early childhood centers, federally regulated transportation, and guided tours.
“You know, people are not going to be happy but in the end we have to have safe people, we have to have safe people. The best bottom line for businesses is for people to be safe,” said Mayor Johnson.
As far as local businesses are concerned, Mayor Johnson strongly encourages masks to be worn by customers and employees while indoors, but it’s up to individual businesses to enforce their own restrictions how they see fit.
“We’re planning on putting out the new signs tomorrow, so that we’re just gonna be enforcing the mandate as the Mayor said. Regardless of vaccination, you’re going to have to put on the mask if you want to shop at our store,” said Greg Biggerstaff, Manager of Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall.
And not everyone is on the same page.
“We don’t plan on enforcing the masks at all. If you want to wear a mask, be my guest, but if you don’t want to wear a mask then come right on in, you don’t need to wear a mask to eat anyways,” said Roesando Figueroa of Jalapeños Mexican Grill.
Some businesses don’t feel it’s their place to enforce the mandate and will leave it up to the customer to do what will make them feel the most comfortable.
“I think that people need to do what makes them comfortable. If you feel like you need to wear a mask then by all means wear a mask, but if you don’t then don’t. Do whatever makes you comfortable,” said Ruel Joyner, Owner of 24e Design Co. on Broughton Street.
For Loken Chand, Co-Owner of Namaste Savannah, he understands the issue at hand and plans for the business to do their part but admits that this mandate is likely to hurt their numbers over the coming weeks.
“Regarding the business point of view, we’ll try to have all the staff to at least have a mask on them and go back to a few weeks back. More detailing, sanitizers, most of those things. The last couple of months we were getting a good bit of customers coming back to, not normal levels but somehow very close to it. It’s definitely going to be hurting the local businesses like mine soon,” explained Chand.
Mayor Johnson is not currently imposing capacity limits for local businesses but hasn’t ruled out the possibility if transmission rates don’t go back down soon.
The latest rolling average of newly reported cases in the city is 62, Savannah’s highest mark since March 11th.