SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – St. Patrick’s Day is one month away, and although Savannah won’t be celebrating in typical fashion, leaders are still preparing for an influx of visitors.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered bars to close for Mardi Gras — even those that had been allowed to operate as restaurants. And take-out drinks were also prohibited.
Mayor Van Johnson said Tuesday that all options are on the table.
“I think that we have to be smart, but I think that we have to do it based on our situation,” said Johnson, adding that the decision will depend on the city’s COVID-19 positivity rate.
“We might possibly be in a situation to limit the operation of some establishments during that time,” he said.
Savannah will go another year without a parade, and many traditions, including the Greening of the Fountain, will be celebrated virtually.
Leaders in the local tourism industry have said they’re hopeful tourists will continue to visit and explore what Savannah has to offer — even without the parade or festival.
“Are we going to have visitors? Of course,” said Mike Owens, CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council.
“I’m not even sure they’ll be wearing green, but I think we certainly are going to have folks out and about,” he added, “and I think it will be consistent with what we’ll see on other weeks during the spring.”
Owens says there has to be a balance between safety and preserving the livelihoods of local businesses.
“Both matter. We can do both, we have done both,” said Owens. “We as a community and a state are faring far better from an economic standpoint than others.”
Johnson said with more visitors expected, restaurant workers and those in the tourism industry need to be top of mind.
“We have to protect those that are just doing their job,” said the mayor. “They don’t have the luxury of being able to say ‘oh well, I can’t work today’ because nobody’s wearing a mask.