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Flaggs to extend Vicksburg’s shelter-in-place order, business restrictions

Vicksburg residents will remain sheltered in place until April 27.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced Friday he was extending the shelter in place order issued under the city’s civil emergency declaration by one week. He also said the city’s senior center will remain closed until June 1.

He added all other restrictions included in the emergency declaration concerning businesses and the number of people who can congregate at one location will also remain in effect until April 27. That includes the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and the 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. curfew for juveniles.

Flaggs said all city employees will report to work Monday. Under the emergency declaration, employees designated as “non-essential” were ordered to stay home with pay and worked rotating shifts.

He said the decision on the employees was “to help do our part to limit the potential spreading of this virus. This week, I also required all city employees to have their temperatures taken as an added precaution.”

Vicksburg Fire Department paramedics and EMTs began Tuesday taking employees’ temperatures daily. None of the employees, he said, had fever.

Flaggs said the city will continue taking employees’ temperatures as a precaution.

“We will also be making available gloves and masks for any city employee who wants one,” he said, adding employees will be required to keep the 6-foot social distancing. “I believe, from looking at all our city employees and their duties from 8 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) and after, and looking at all the guidelines, and I believe all our employees can perform their duties without interfering with the 6-foot social distance, and I think we’re ready to go to back to work as the first phase.”

With the exception of first responders, Flaggs said, all city employees will receive their regular pay.

Police and firefighters who are paid by an hourly rate, he said, will be paid time-and-a-half.

With the exception of the police department, Flaggs said city offices will be closed to the public.

“Entry will only be made by appointment or you can go to that office door and call and someone will come to you,” he said.

The following non-essential businesses will also be closed, Flaggs said:

• 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

The mayor said the decision to keep the businesses closed will be re-evaluated before April 27. He said he would be meeting with the barbershop, beauty shop, massage therapists and nail salon owners Monday.

Businesses like hardware stores, groceries and pharmacies and will not be restricted on the number of people they can have in the stores and social distancing and masks will be required. Convenience stores, however, will still be restricted to 10 people inside and outside.

Flaggs would not say when he would announce whether the shelter in place would be lifted, saying he was waiting on Gov. Tate Reeves’s decision on the state’s shelter-in-place order, which Reeves also extended to April 27, and guidance from local and state health officials.

“The president has given some outlines to each state,” he said, adding the outlines indicated there was a reluctance to reopen businesses until most states have started flattening the curve and are moving down in confirmed cases.

“I will do what I’ve always done, look to the governor and the White House and the Department of Health,” he said. “I believe because of the city and the services we provide and can provide to those who what them, I think we’re ready to go back.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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