Georgia mayor orders residents to wear masks in public

Georgia mayor orders residents to wear masks in public
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Savannah, Ga., has became the first major city in the Peach State to require its residents to wear masks as coronavirus cases continue to surge around the country.

Mayor Van Johnson (D) issued the order Tuesday, with it going into effect Wednesday morning. Residents that are caught not wearing a mask in public will first be offered one by law enforcement. If they refuse to wear one, they can be fined up to $500.

The order mandates that those entering commercial establishments in Savannah wear a mask or face covering, though it provides exemptions for religious establishments and for those eating, drink or smoking. It also doesn't apply to those exercising outdoors if they are practicing social distancing.

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“Frankly, and honestly, I do not believe we have any other choice,” Johnson said at a briefing Tuesday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The numbers speak for themselves. These are not the numbers Savannah wants or needs to break.”

Johnson's order could cause friction between the city and Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia governor says reopening schools 'went real well' US surpasses 5 million coronavirus cases Matt Lieberman faces calls to drop out of Georgia Senate race over 'racist and discriminatory' tropes in 2018 book MORE (R), the Journal-Constitution noted. Kemp signed an executive order in April that overrode whatever pandemic restrictions city or municipal governments had previously implemented.

Despite the fact that Georgia last week broke its record for total number of COVID-19 cases in a week, with more than 11,000, Kemp has still not made wearing masks mandatory for all Georgians.

An order signed by the governor on Monday strongly encourages the use of masks while in public, but doesn't require them.