Virus concerns force changes to schedules, business operations
Published 5:22 pm Monday, March 16, 2020
Due to the potential spread of COVID-19, local businesses, retailers and clubs are making adjustments to address concerns over the spread of the virus.
The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Monday closed the Vicksburg Information Center, located on Old Highway 27 across from the Vicksburg National Military Park.
Monday’s announcement followed a weekend decision made by the Mississippi Development Authority to close all welcome centers across the state, which included the Visitor Center in Vicksburg on Washington Street overlooking the river bridges.
“We understand that the Visitors Information Center is helpful to those who visit Vicksburg, however, we want to be prudent for the welfare of our visitors and our staff during the extraordinary time,” VCVB Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland said.
As of Monday afternoon, officials with Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi said the facility remained open and were looking ahead to tournaments the park is scheduled to host this weekend.
Brian Storm, president of Sports Fields Inc., the parent company of Sports Force Parks, said the company has increased cleaning rotations of the facility’s restrooms, public areas, dining areas and more. He also said at this time, the company was monitoring the situation and would continue to update procedures as needed.
This past weekend, the facility adopted additional social distancing measures, in addition to the extra cleaning procedures, to address any concerns.
Chick-fil-A Vicksburg has also made adjustments to their services, no longer allowing service in the restaurant’s dining room.
In a posting on Facebook, the company said while its dining room would be closed starting Monday at 1 p.m., it would still offer carry-out, curbside delivery and drive-through services. Door Dash services will also continue.
As part of a growing list of closures and cancellations, organizers with the Vicksburg Pilgrimage announced Monday afternoon that the first weekend of the planned three-weekend event has been canceled.
Decisions regarding the following two weekends of the pilgrimage are uncertain as are pending future dates.
For more information visit Vicksburg Pilgrimage’s website at www.vicksburgpilgrimage.com
While the Junius Ward Johnson YMCA will keep its fitness center open, Membership Director Lauren Coulon said all group fitness classes, as well as children’s activities, have been suspended. For those who continue using the fitness center, Coulon said the facility is using extreme caution with cleaning, and hand sanitizer is available.
Southern Heritage Air Museum President Patty Mekus said their board decided to close the museum to the public until April 1 and canceled their scheduled March hangar lunch.
The Debra Franco Preparatory School of Dance will continue to have classes.
Franco said she sent out notices to her students letting them know if they felt uncomfortable about attending class, they would be excused. Each dance class has less than 25 students, Franco said, and to adhere to the social distance policy, dancers will not practice any routines where they will be touching each other.
“I think the kids need some normalcy,” Franco said, adding that last week many of her young students were afraid they were going to die of the virus.
Franco said she tried to calm their fears by explaining how young people are at low risk of experiencing severe symptoms.
In an effort to keep the studio germ free, Franco said she is wiping down spaces with sanitizer.
She is also asking students to dress for class at home and that parents forgo hanging out in the lobby of the studio.
Bess Averett, who is the director of the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, said currently the park is open for business.
“The situation is fluid,” Averett said, but the goal is to keep the park open.
Like the VNMP, Vicksburg Main Street Executive Director Kim Hopkins said, retail businesses and restaurants are still open.
“We are encouraging people to come downtown and support local retailers,” Hopkins said while also observing distancing.
And for those who choose to stay in, Hopkins said purchasing gift certificates will aid businesses and to-go orders can be provided by restaurants.
The Vicksburg Kiwanis Club and the Port City Kiwanis Club have canceled all meetings until further notice and the Lions Club will not meet.
The Church of the Holy Trinity has also canceled the Friday Lenten Fine Arts series.
The Vicksburg Post will continue to update the public on closings and changes to scheduled events.
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