City, county adopt stronger restrictions, city issues shelter-in-place order beginning Friday evening

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

In the span of three hours Thursday, both the Warren County Board of Supervisors and the city of Vicksburg took steps to place further restrictions on the community with the goal of continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19 and further protect the community.

During a meeting Thursday morning, supervisors adopted measures that shut down the public’s open access to county buildings, closed the county-controlled Clear Creek Golf Course and shuttered the general public’s access to the county boat launch.

Hours later, Mayor George Flaggs announced sweeping changes to the city’s list of restrictions, including the creation of a juvenile curfew, cut down public access to city buildings and strengthened restriction on the size of gatherings in the city and some business operations.

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The steps taken by both governments came a day after Gov. Tate Reeves announced a shelter-in-place order that goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m., which is the same time the new restrictions and guidelines announced by the county and city will go into effect.

In each case, the restrictions at the city, county and state levels continue through Monday, April 20.

“I’m reminded, at a time like this. That the scripture says that the effective prayer of a righteous man avails much. Much of what you are going to hear today is going to be sobering; what you have already heard is sobering,” Warren County Board of Supervisors President Dr. Jeff Holland said during an afternoon press conference on the steps of the Warren County Courthouse. “This is a time for sober thought. And what we are bringing to you is in fact, is designed to bring sober security in our community. It is not designed to scare, it is designed to protect, and let us approach it that way.”

As for the county, supervisors agreed on measures aimed at further protecting employees and the public, while also protecting core functions in many of the county’s departments.

After 5 p.m. Friday, all county buildings, including the courthouse, will be locked. The public will continue to have access to the offices within those buildings, but through appointment only.

Employees in those departments will continue to operate, but residents will need to call ahead and schedule appointments or make arrangements to mail or drop off materials and documents.

In the case of the county-controlled Clear Creek Golf Course, it will be closed beginning Friday evening and the public library, already closed, will remain closed.

The county’s boat launch and public restroom in the Eagle Lake community will also be closed to the public. But, the closure will not affect commercial fishing operations.

While the supervisors agreed on these measures in their meeting Thursday, the order had not yet been finalized or signed. Holland said he expected to sign the final document Friday morning.

“We just felt it was the next logical step for us to take,” Holland said. “We’ve taken this entire thing in steps we think the community could handle. We were well positioned already in this community — city and county — to accept what the governor brought to us Wednesday, something that we could live with, function with.”

The city’s moves Thursday are two-fold; one announcing new restrictions and two, amending and extending restrictions and guidelines already in place.

“No now more than ever we are asking the public to follow all of the local, state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of this disease for the next two weeks,” Flaggs said. “We feel confident that we remain fully prepared but we have to remain vigilant and follow every guideline to the best of our ability.

“I am not only adopting gov executive order but am adding specific provisions that will go into effect Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m. These additional prevention methods will strengthen the measures already in place.”

Some of the biggest changes with the new order are the closing to the public, or closing altogether, of some city buildings and facilities, and allowing daycare operations to now open after they had been deemed essential businesses.

Some of the new and amended restrictions include:

• A shelter-in-place order — All individuals currently living in the city of Vicksburg are ordered to stay at home or in their place of residence except as allowed by this proclamation. Individuals using outdoor space when outside of their homes or residences shall maintain social distancing. There shall not be gatherings of more than 10 persons at a residence unless the persons live there. This includes a prohibition against house parties, barbeques and other social gatherings of more than 10 persons at a residence.  Individuals may leave their residences for the following activities:

  • To engage in activities or perform tasks necessary to their health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets) or the health and safety of those persons who are unable or should not leave their home.
  • To obtain necessary food, services or supplies for themselves and members of their household needed to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of the residence, or to deliver those goods or services to those persons who are unable or should not leave their home.
  • To engage in individual outdoor activity and recreation (not group recreation or activities such as soccer or basketball games).
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at businesses allowed to remain open or to carry out activities permitted in this Proclamation.

• A juvenile curfew — In addition to the city-wide curfew that goes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., this order establishes a curfew for juveniles 17 and under from 7:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. Juveniles should not be on the public streets during this time unless the juvenile is traveling to or from work or with a parent or responsible guardian.   

• Eliminates outside seating areas for restaurants and private clubsRestaurants and private clubs shall be limited to pick-up, curbside service, delivery, or drive-through services for food, but shall close any dine-in or outside seating area available to the public. There shall not be more than 10 employees and 10 customers inside (waiting to pick-up) the abovementioned businesses at any one time. These establishments must close by 11 p.m. and remain closed until 5 a.m.

• Some exceptions to order limiting the number of customers in store and in parking lot — Retail and convenience stores shall allow no more than 10 persons inside the store and no more than 10 persons in the parking lot/gas service areas of the premises at any one time. This excludes grocery stores and other essential retail stores that provide food and beverage, medicine, building materials, or plumbing supplies. These businesses should require social distancing and have hand sanitizer available.

• Clearly defining permitted travel under shelter-in-place — Those permitted to travel and engaged in travel must adhere to the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health recommendations and guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and aggressive hygiene including frequent hand washing, and use of sanitizer. Permitted travel includes the following:

  • Travel to and from work,
  • Travel to and from grocery stores, pharmacies, medical and dental clinics, other retail allowed to remain open,
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons including to obtain COVID-19 testing for such individuals,
  • Travel to or from educational institutions including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, and other educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and other education-related purposes,
  • Travel to or from their place of residence,
  • Travel required by law enforcement,
  • Travel for health and safety reasons not specifically mentioned herein

• Declaring non-essential businesses — The following categories of businesses are deemed to be non-essential and must temporarily close until April 20, 2020, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • All places of amusement and recreation, whether indoor or outdoor
  • Theaters
  • Gyms
  • Barbers and beauty salons
  • Massage, nail and day spas or salons
  • Sporting and concert venues
  • Bars (except for the sale of food)
  • Nightclubs (except for the sale of food)
  • Tattoo parlors
  • Tanning salons
  • Convention centers
  • Community centers
  • Parks
  • Dance studios
  • Children’s party & play facilities
  • Social clubs
  • Museums

• While essential, businesses must follow social-distancing — All other businesses not specifically mentioned herein should require social distancing from its employees and patrons and follow the environmental cleaning and hygiene guidelines from the CDC.

• Some city buildings, facilities closed and/or closed to the public — Except for the Vicksburg Police Department which will remain open to the public, entrances to city buildings where the public normally conducts business shall be closed, with the understanding that the public can still contact and perform business with city officials and essential employees via telephone, e-mail, drive-through (where available), and written communication during this period of time. In the event someone needs to conduct face-to-face business with a city department, it is recommended that they call the number listed herein and posted on the door of that city building in order to be admitted:

  • City Hall – 601-634-4553
  • Community Development – 601-634-4528
  • Animal control – 601-636-6982
  • Cemetery – 601-634-4513
  • Auditorium – closed
  • Convention Center – closed
  • Robert M. Walker Building – 601-631-3710
  • Purchasing Department – 601-634-4550
  • Recreation – closed
  • Airport – 601-636-4925
  • Senior Center – closed
  • Water & Gas – drive-through only

Flagg said he is looking forward to a point where many of the restrictions and guidelines can be rescinded and canceled, but that advice must come from state and health officials.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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