• 70°

Supervisors ease restrictions on businesses, restaurants, open public boat ramp

The Warren County Board of Supervisors Thursday extended the county’s emergency order until June 1 with some modifications.

The amended order includes a statement from the supervisors urging residents to wear facemasks to help protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus, and will require residents and employees to wear masks when they have face-to-face contact while conducting county business.

Effective at 5 p.m. Thursday, businesses and restaurants will have to restrict the number of customers to 50 percent of capacity and outdoor events limited to 20 people. Bars remain closed under the order.

The Warren County-Vicksburg Library remains closed, and the county’s public boat ramp will be open but the restrooms there and at other county recreation facilities will remain closed.

The Warren County Courthouse will continue operating under its present policy.

The amendments to the county’s declaration follow the guidelines outlined in Gov. Tate Reeves executive order and those in the city of Vicksburg’s emergency declaration.

Among those items are mandatory 10 p.m. closing times for restaurants, and the requirement to use disposable utensils and plates when serving customers. Restaurant employees will also be screened for the virus, be required to wear masks and be sent home if ill.

“We’re not making stricter rules, we’re just making it clear what they are,” District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield said during discussions on the amendments.

Another issue considered by the supervisors was whether to change the policy involving public access to the courthouse.

Under the present policy, people doing business with a county department at the courthouse calls that department when they arrive and someone from the department either meets them at their vehicle or escorts them to the office they need.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said the present policy works well for security.

“It works well for us,” Chancery Clerk Donna Hardy said.

Pace said the public has been receptive to the changes.

“I haven’t received one single complaint (about the Courthouse policy),” he said. “The public is understanding of what you’re doing.”

Hardy said she has received some complaints, but added many of them are “it’s just not the way I want it.”

When the emergency is over, she said, “We’re going to keep some of these tips (policies); some of these tips have provided for a much more efficient way of delivering service, like drop boxes and the appointments.

“At first people didn’t like the appointments; now they love them. The public is getting used to the fact that they have to call in (before entering the courthouse).”

Hardy said her office has followed a policy requiring people coming to her office to wear masks when they enter. She said she has some spare masks in case someone going to her office needs one.

District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson suggested county employees and the public wear masks while at the courthouse. She also suggested the county have masks available to give to the public.

Board of Supervisors president Dr. John Holland said the board should consider its options with the masks.

“The hub of our community, being downtown and the retail areas, is going to open,” he said. “We want to be as prepared for that as we can possibly be.”

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.

email author More by John