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Curfew could be lifted earlier if casinos allowed to reopen

The future of Vicksburg’s curfew, which is part of the city’s civil emergency and shelter-in-place orders, may depend on when casinos in Mississippi are allowed to reopen.

During a press conference Tuesday, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced a slight change to the curfew that would allow an exemption to those walking, exercising or walking their dogs between 4 and 5 a.m. He also said having a curfew at a time when casinos are allowed to operate 24-hours a day would not make sense.

The curfew was implemented on March 25 as one of the steps to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Flaggs had earlier said lifting the curfew, which goes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day, would be among the last restrictions lifted in his phased-in approach to restarting the local economy.

If Gov. Tate Reeves allows the casinos to reopen, Flaggs said, he does not believe the city would be able to keep the curfew. Vicksburg has four casinos that account for 16 percent of the city’s budget.

“I personally think that it would be hard to maintain the same curfew and open up the casinos, which are (open) 24 hours,” he said.

“That’s going to adversely affect the revenue, and two, you’re going to have people out there saying they just left the casino and I do not want any profiling. We’ll probably have to change that (the curfew) and I’ll make the adjustment accordingly.”

Reeves has said he would like to see the casinos reopen in some form by Memorial Day, but has not given a firm date. Flaggs said the governor, state Department of Health officials and the Gaming Commission are working on a plan to reopen some areas in the casinos.

“I would hope that they would open up so we could start generating some revenue,” Flaggs said. “It’s another way of putting some money back into the economy by way of people who have the stimulus money and some other means.”

As for the more immediate exemption added for those walking early in the morning, Flaggs said the change was needed to accommodate those who leave for work early in the day.

“There are people along Drummond, Clay Street and other areas of this city and in neighborhoods who choose to take their pets out for walks between 4 and 5, because they have to go to work,” Flaggs said. “They ought to be able to walk their pets or exercise — meaning walk, run or jog — if they choose to, and I encourage them to basically do it in their neighborhoods because it’s a safe practice.”

Flaggs said a second curfew, a juvenile curfew, which goes from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. each day will not be affected by any casino reopenings. But, Flaggs said, the juvenile curfew could be lifted when guidelines restricting size of gatherings are lifted.

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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