Restrictions, mask requirements in 13 Miss. counties goes into effect Monday

Updated: Jul. 10, 2020 at 3:09 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is addressing the issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak within the state.

In recent days, the concern from top health officials on COVID-19 has become more dire. Thursday morning, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said some of the biggest hospitals in the state are running out of beds.

“We’re sending people out of state all the time because Mississippi hospitals cannot take care of Mississippi patients,” Dobbs said.

Reeves is tightening restrictions on counties with significant spikes in cases. This includes: Hinds, DeSoto, Madison, Harrison, Rankin, Jackson, Washington, Sunflower, Grenada, Claiborne, Jefferson, Wayne, and Quitman.

This means no more than 10 people can gather socially indoors and no more than 20 outdoors in these counties. Citizens must all wear masks when shopping and at public gatherings.

The executive order will take effect Monday, July 13 at 8 a.m. through Monday, July 20 at 8 a.m.

Click here to read the order in full.

He said the order does not impact restaurants, bars or casinos. The rules already in place are still in effect for those places.

Reeves is still hesitant to issue a statewide mandate. He believes a more localized version of these restrictions will be more effective as long as the residents of these counties buy in.

Reeves admitted enforcement will not come easy.

“It’s very, very difficult for us to enforce these rules,” Reeves said. He said he will encourage local authorities to enforce these rules, and state resources will be sent to help if needed.

The governor also said the order does not apply to churches, but applies to individuals inside their own homes who have large gatherings. He said he doesn’t believe he can shut down churches, and he trusts them to follow the protocols.

For all businesses:

  • All businesses are expected to take every step necessary to implement the regulations, orders, and guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and encouraging sick employees to stay home.
  • All employees will be screened daily at the beginning of their shifts, including asking whether they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days and have they had a fever in the last 48 hours.
  • Based on their duties and responsibilities, employees who are unable to maintain at least 6 feet distance from others must wear a face covering throughout their shift, such as a face mask. Their face coverings must be cleaned or replaced daily.
  • Hand sanitizer must be provided to all employees, which can include a hand rub or soap.

For retail businesses (in addition to measures above):

  • Face coverings must be provided to all employees who come in direct contact with customers. Employees are required to wear that face covering throughout their shift and clean or replace daily.
  • All customers must wear a face covering while inside the retail business.
  • Hand sanitizer must be placed at all entrances, in or near bathrooms, and at cashier stations.
  • Retail businesses are expected to make all efforts to maintain a 6-foot distance between customers at all times.
  • Carts, baskets, and other similar surfaces touched by customers must be sanitized after each use. Other high-touch areas must be sanitized at least once every two hours.

For people out in public:

  • Everyone must wear face coverings when at public gatherings or in a shopping environment.
  • People must maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and others.
  • Further limits on social gatherings: down to no more than 10 indoors and 20 outdoors.

Gov. Reeves said he does not believe schools should delay their opening at this time, but will allow school districts to make their own plans.

“I do believe it’s critically important that we get kids back in schools so they do not fall behind,” he said.

When asked about Madison County Schools’ decision to reopen with in-person classes, he said he supports their decision and would not criticize it. He also said he plans to have his children attend school this fall.

He said getting children back in school is one thing that Republicans and Democrats can all agree with, but urged people to “do the little things now,” so that it can happen safely.

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