Mayor Johnson: Outdoor events must have COVID safety plan for permits

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Mayor Van Johnson says the city will begin in October, issuing permits for outdoor events. But it comes with some caveats.

Johnson says the events cannot exceed 500 people and must have a COVID-19 safety plan. He mentioned masking requirements, social distancing, among additional measures. However, Johnson wouldn’t give specifics, instead saying each venue has different capabilities and faces different challenges.

“I think it has to make sense in terms of the amount of people allowed for the space that you’re in. I think you have to have, you know, appropriate masking guidelines, social distancing guidelines, I think you have to put a plan together that A, not only makes sense but that can be enforced,” Johnson said.

Although the COVID situation in Chatham County is gradually trending down, Johnson urged residents to get vaccinated and practice COVID safety measures. He mentioned last Fall and Winter’s increase in infections as a cause for concern of a potential repeat this year.

“Our COVID metrics continue to trend down after spiking at the beginning of the month, however, we still have a high, abnormally high community transmission rate and positive test percentage,” Johnson says. He said he met with the city’s medical advisors and they concluded that the light at the end of the tunnel was still far away.

Johnson says he will continue to meet with the city’s medical team monthly to assess the COVID situation in the Hostess City.

Image provided by the Coastal Health District.

The previous threshold for the city to invoke a mask mandate was a community transmission index of 100, which accounts for the number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Currently, that number sits at 687, a dramatic drop from Sept. 3, when it was 1301, according to the Coastal Health District (CHD).

“I think it’s important to look at trends as is current numbers, so if it’s not working in October then we know what we have to do in November, then we pull back on November. There’s several big events and again, if our numbers are not there then our position is we won’t have them,” said Johnson.

Still, the community spread is nearly 7x higher than the previous threshold. CHD usually releases updated COVID-19 numbers around 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“It would probably be very close to that. Again, keep in mind, over 100 is still considered significant community spread,” Johnson said. “We’re still very high, we’re acknowledging the fact that we’re going down, but we recognize that we still have a very long way to be able to go.”

Johnson also touched on the recent flooding in the Hostess City, claiming Monday was the 17th most wet day in the city’s recorded history. He urged residents to refrain from driving down flooded roads.

Johnson listed the closed roads as of this morning:

  • Intersection of Jefferson and 38th Street
  • The right lane of South Bound Abercorn between 62nd and DeRenne Avenue
  • The right lane of Northbound Abercorn between DeRenne and 66th Street
  • Paulson between 60th and 63rd streets

“Please don’t try to be our water depth specialist, don’t attempt to gauge it for yourself,” Johnson says. “If we’ve closed it, we’ve closed it for a reason.”

Watch the full press conference below.

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