SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There are no plans for an emergency declaration for the city of Savannah at this time, Mayor Van Johnson said Friday.
It’s a decision that was debated at Thursday’s city council meeting, with some members calling for the possibility of curfews to deal with large crowds that are expected to gather downtown despite the postponement of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival.
Johnson said a curfew will not be implemented at this time.
“We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and will take action as circumstances dictate,” the mayor said. “In the meantime, use common sense, wash your hands and follow the guidance of the Coastal Georgia Public Health.”
Original story below:
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The St. Patrick’s festival is canceled, but the city of Savannah still needs to prepare for large crowds that may gather downtown.
Savannah City Council is now drafting a plan of action.
Members met Thursday afternoon to discuss their options, including issuing an emergency declaration.
“I don’t feel comfortable declaring an emergency if I don’t know what that entails,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.
Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter brought up concerns about how COVID-19 could be contained if large crowds are still gathering. She urged the possibility of enforcing curfews.
“This is a serious pandemic that is rapidly affecting our communities as we speak,” she said.
“How do we enforce that city-wide if people are not doing it. Are we prepared to, if you’re violating this emergency measure, this curfew are we going to take you to jail?” Johnson asked.
The city attorney said an emergency declaration is possible but city leaders would have to decide how far to take it.
“I need to be very clear about the use of emergency powers. What does that mean? Are we forcing stores and restaurants to close?” Johnson said.
Some councilors say this would not be fair to downtown businesses.
“I don’t want to feed into hysteria by saying we need to start restricting areas. We’re doing everything we need to do,” Alderman Kurtis Purtee said.
“Ultimately human beings and residents are going to do what they’re going to do,” Alderman Nick Palumbo said.
Mayor Johnson said he doesn’t feel comfortable announcing an emergency declaration until he has time to have another meeting to talk it over with health officials. City leaders are now on standby for a possible meeting within the next 24 hours of Thursday.