Tybee Island sees big crowds, more mask use over Labor Day weekend

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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV)- More than 100,000 people visited Tybee Island over the labor day weekend.

The last two summer holidays have lead to a rise in COVID-19, but leaders hope this time will be different.

Some say it was the safest holiday weekend of the season. After months of warnings and pleas for the public to help stop the spread of the virus some business owners say they’re seeing a change in behavior.

“I think everyone is just finally figuring out if we don’t start doing this, if we don’t start masking and staying apart we are never going to get rid of this,” said Susan Kelleher, owner of Seaside Sisters.

Coronavirus is what Governor Brian Kemp calls the invisible enemy. On Friday, he told Georgians if they let their guard down we could see another spike in cases.

“Our states health and well being literally depends on safety over this labor day weekend,” said Kemp.

While close to 40,000 people visited the island daily and beaches were crowded, Mayor Shirley Sessions says mask culture was widespread.

“People probably say one out of three people either seemed to be wearing a mask or having a mask on their person to wear,” said Sessions, “and that was even different than a week ago.”

Kelleher was one of the first on the island to mandate masks inside her business. She says a majority of people are complying.

“Every once in awhile someone will come in and say well I’m not going to do that,” said Kelleher, “and I’ll just say well that’s your choice, but here’s my choice, here’s the door.”

COVID-19 isn’t the only threat on Tybee, there have been two recent drownings. Mayor Sessions says, thankfully, the weekend went without incident.

“We are just trying to do everything we can to encourage safety not only regarding COVID-19, but also on Tybee the beach safety is critical,” said Sessions.

Sessions says thankfully COVID-19 case numbers on Tybee remain low, while masks aren’t mandatory they’re strongly encouraged.

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