Mayor Johnson revokes event permits amid record COVID infections

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Mayor Van Johnson reinstated additional COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, amid record-setting infection in Chatham County.

Johnson has revoked all permits for events in public space through Sept. 30 and no new permits will be issued until further notice. The permit ban excludes weddings, but he said he’s asked wedding planners to adhere to strict social distancing and mask mandates.

“These measures are admittingly inconvenient and uncomfortable, but again are taken as deliberate intermediary steps in lieu of more restrictive steps,” Johnson said.

The city’s mask mandate was also extended through Sept. 23. Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order banning cities from enforcing mask and vaccine mandates in private businesses.

Johnson has been publicly criticizing Kemp over the past week and continued his criticism Tuesday saying “don’t try us, we believe very clearly that we have the standing” to enforce restrictions. He also said the state hasn’t done anything to help Georgia cities battle COVID.

“This is a race to the bottom that we’re trying hard, to seem, to win,” Johnson says.

Johnson says events at the Savannah Civic Center will also be canceled or rescheduled and community centers and city buildings are closed to the public. He also vowed to step up mask enforcement on trolleys.

Johnson said he’s asked religious leaders to revise their in-person worship services and consider going virtual as much as possible. Johnson says until COVID infections plummet, more restrictions are incoming.

“We have to have healthy people. Healthy people build healthy businesses, healthy businesses build a healthy economy. You don’t build a healthy economy with sick people.”

Johnson also said vaccine mandates for city employees is possible after the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. The other two vaccines have been FDA approved for emergency use.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is reported.

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