BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It was a celebration of things that float at the South Mississippi Boat Show at Point Cadet Plaza. But more than that, it was a celebration of freedom, after Gov. Tate Reeves lifted state-mandated COVID protocols on Friday.
“I drove over from Pascagoula to see this,” Chris Langston said. “And I think that we’re out here enjoying this that we haven’t been able to do for the past year.”
But he urges people not to be reckless.
“It’s still in the back of your head to be mindful and to continue to be safe for one another and let’s take the small steps forward and make things better,” said Langston.
Lance Pippin and Misty Broussard both had it rough during the pandemic.
“It humbled everyone or, at least, the majority of people I’ve seen,” Broussard said. “It took us down a few notches. It made us really appreciate the people we have, the world that God created for us, for sure.”
However, this day means a new start.
“I think it’s time,” Pippin said. “I do appreciate the precautions we took a year ago. And I think the COVID will finally level out a little bit as we go along. And, I think it’s good for people’s psyche to get back to normal.”
The Biloxi Visitors Center was busy with locals and visitors alike during the 4th Annual Biloxi Lighthouse Arts and Crafts Fair, and James Anderson, whose wife is a potter, enjoyed the extra business as people felt comfortable to explore.
“I’m glad to see people out associating with people, enjoying themselves, having a good time and putting a bad year behind us,” he said.
For Debbie Blackburn, the end of the mandate is an example of why she’s glad she moved to Mississippi.
“I’m glad they’re doing it. A lot of states aren’t doing that,” said Blackburn “Mississippi’s been a great state. We moved here from Virginia. You guys were more open to the area. Seems like you’re more up to the times that we have nowadays that people are intelligent. We can make a decision of what we have to do in getting out in public and be safe on our own without telling us what we have to do.”
In his executive order, Reeves did make multiple “suggestions” that people continue to follow the CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines on safety, which include wearing a mask in all public spaces, social distancing and hand washing.