SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson has issued an emergency order mandating face coverings in public in the City of Savannah.

The mandate will take effect on Wednesday, July 1 at 8 a.m.

“Frankly, and honestly, I do not believe that we have any other choice,” Johnson said, citing recent record case numbers in the City.

Under the order, face coverings must be worn inside all commercial establishments within City limits, such as restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, salons and pharmacies. These establishments must require employees to wear a face covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public.

Johnson said anyone unable to safely wear a face mask due to old age or underlying health conditions, or who is unable to remove the mask on their own, is exempt. Children under the age of 10 will not be required to wear a mask.

Anyone not complying with the mandatory mask order will be subject to a civil infraction, which is punishable with a fine of up to $500, pursuant to Section 3-3015 of the City Code.

This does not apply to religious establishments. However, face coverings are highly recommended during religious activity.

Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

  1. In personal vehicles;
  2. When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members;
  3. During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of 6 feet from other people with whom they do not cohabitate at all times;
  4. While drinking, eating, or smoking;
  5. When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition;
  6. When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services; and
  7. When a person is 10 years of age or younger.

The City of Savannah has clarified with News 3 that face coverings will not be required while exercising in indoor facilities, but social distancing must be practiced.

Scroll down to view the order in its entirety.

Also at Tuesday’s press conference, Johnson announced he has joined other Georgia mayors in sending a letter to the General Assembly asking them to repeal the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The mayor said he wants to be clear that he supports the right to defend you and your family if someone is threatening to hurt you inside of your own home. However, he said the law doesn’t say a person has a duty to retreat during a confrontation with someone else.

Johnson also addressed the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.

He said this year, celebrating will be a different, as there is no fireworks show in the City. He asked that people be responsible when celebrating and discouraged large gatherings and loud fireworks.

The mayor said that fireworks cause distress to many of our neighbors, including the elderly, those suffering from PTSD, and our pets. He said shooting guns into the air is not an alternate to fireworks and said it is illegal, unsafe, and will not be tolerated.

Watch Johnson’s full press conference below.