Savannah Mayor Van Johnson’s emergency order requires people to don face masks when in many public places starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Violators will be offered a face covering before they are cited, Johnson said, and fined $500 if they flout the requirement.
“Frankly, and honestly, I do not believe we have any other choice,” Johnson said Tuesday at a briefing at Savannah City Hall, pointing to rising numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in the coastal Georgia city. “The numbers speak for themselves. These are not the numbers Savannah wants or needs to break.”
The governor’s office didn’t comment on Johnson’s decision. If Kemp attempts to block Savannah’s order, it could set up a thorny legal and political battle. If not, it could clear the way for Atlanta other cities to take similar steps.
MORE: In split with state, Savannah's mayor requires face masks
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is among the local officials who have called for stricter rules.
Pressed recently on whether he'll impose a requirement for masks, Kemp said he believes a requirement to don face-coverings is a “bridge too far” and expressed concern about a lack of widespread public support.
MORE: Kemp to embark on a 'wear a mask' tour of Georgia
Meanwhile in Savannah, Johnson’s order requires people entering a commercial establishment in the city to wear a face-covering or mask, though it exempts religious establishments and makes exceptions for people under 10 years old and those eating, drinking or smoking. It also doesn’t cover people exercising while outside, so long as they’re socially-distanced.