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Flaggs unveils mask mandate details and other COVID-19 civil emergency order changes

Changes to the city of Vicksburg’s COVID-19 civil emergency order will not only mandate facemasks in businesses, public buildings and indoor events, but it will also restrict the operations of bars and some restaurants that serve alcohol.

The changes were unveiled Wednesday by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. during a press conference. The new order begins Saturday at 8 a.m. and extends through Aug. 3.

As for the facemasks, the order requires retail businesses, such as grocery stores, building supply stores, convenience stores, “or any other store that sells items to the public,” to adopt and enforce the following measures:

  • Employees shall wear a face covering, covering the mouth and nose, and shall be required to wear a face covering while on duty, and such face covering shall be cleaned or replaced at least daily.
  • Customers shall wear a face covering, covering nose and mouth, while inside the retail business.
  • Hand sanitizer shall be made available to all employees and shall be made available to customers at points of entry and exit, in or near the bathrooms, and at the cashier or payment stations.
  • Retail businesses shall make all reasonable efforts to maintain 6 feet of separation between customers (or parties of customers) at all times, including 6 feet of separation while waiting in cashier or payment lines.
  • Carts and baskets and all other surfaces that are contacted by customers during the course of providing services shall be sanitized after each use by customers. All other high-touch areas, including all door handles, shall be sanitized every two hours at a minimum.
  • Retail businesses shall post a sign notifying customers that a face covering is required prior to entering the business and shall monitor and enforce the face covering requirement. Business owners and managers are entitled to rely upon the representations of their customers, patrons and employees regarding whether or not they qualify for an exception from the face covering requirement.

For all other businesses or organizations, management must adopt and enforce the following measures:

  • Anyone entering the business must require all persons who enter the premises to wear a face covering.
  • Businesses shall post a sign notifying persons who enter that they are required to wear a face covering and shall monitor and enforce the face covering requirement.
  • Business owners and managers are entitled to rely upon the representations of their customers, patrons and employees regarding whether or not they qualify for an exception from the face covering requirement. 
  • Businesses shall screen employees before each shift by asking:
    • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
    • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
    • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
    • Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
    • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours? 
  • Employees shall wear a face covering while on duty if they are not able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet of separation from other employees while on duty, and such face coverings shall be cleaned or replaced at least daily.

In addition, all persons attending indoor gatherings such as indoor worship services, indoor funerals, wedding services and “any other indoor event gathering, including indoor entertainment,” must wear a face covering.

The order does allow some exceptions to requiring face coverings.

  • Any individual who will not come in contact with any other individual (outside of their immediate household members) or who will be able to maintain strict social distancing of six (6) feet apart from any other individual (outside of immediate household);
  • Any child under the age of 8; however, all children between the ages of 2 and 7 years old are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering;
  • Any individual with a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering;
  • Any individual who is consuming food or drinks;
  • Any individual seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired;
  • Any individual giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience; and
  • Any individual temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes.

The new order also comes with a scale for individual fines and citations for businesses that fail to follow the mask guidelines.

For any individual not adhering to the guidelines, the first offense will come with a warning. A second offense will come with a $100 fine, while a third offense or more will be $300 “per each separate violation.”

For businesses who are found to not follow the guidelines, violations are subject to “misdemeanor prosecution and or a fine up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.”

 

Changes to those establishments that serve or allow alcohol on-premises:

In part 6 of the order, the city will restrict the operation hours for “any business that sells alcohol or allows alcohol for on-premises consumption.”

Beginning Saturday, those establishments, with the exception of those under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, such as casinos, shall close by midnight.

This includes restaurants, bars, BYOB, or other entertainment venues that sell or allow consumption of alcohol on the premises,” the order reads.

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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