Restaurants will be reopening in Mississippi with some restrictions, but salons and barbershops, though, will still remain closed a little bit longer.
Miss. Governor Tate Reeves announced Monday afternoon that restaurant dining rooms across the state will be allowed to be reopened this week with the caveat that dining rooms will be restricted to a maximum of 50 percent dining capacity. Reeves said some tables will be required to be closed in order to maintain social distancing. He also said all wait staff will be required to wear masks.
Also to now be allowed are outdoor gatherings of up to 20 individuals. The move, which Reeves said would also reopen many outdoor spaces, appears to be aimed at preparing the state for the resumption of athletic competitions and practices, as well as family gatherings. However, he warned state residents to gather responsibly.
One sector of business Reeves did not authorize to reopen, though, is salons and barbershops. He said he had heard a considerable amount of requests on this – including from his wife – but that his advisors said the state is just not at the place where it can do so yet. However, he hopes in the coming days this can be lifted.
“I’ll be working on the details, and those will be coming very, very soon,” Reeves said.
Reeves spent most of Monday’s press conference blasting the Mississippi Legislature for voting last week to remove his ability to spend emergency funds. Stating that he understood there were some in the Legislature who might have revenge in mind against him for political matters in the past, “this is not the time.”
“The same emergency laws that tell me how I am supposed to do everything else give me that authority,” he argued during his press conference. “They are going to debate how each legislator wants to spend it. They are going to do what legislators do; they are going to divvy it up and spend it how each legislator wants to spend it. This is power politics at is worst.”
Reeves said instead of himself being the one attacked, it was the people of Mississippi who would be harmed.
What this means
Reeves’ new executive order guidelines go into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 7 until 8 a.m. on Monday, May 11, which is when the Safer At Home order ends as well.
“I don’t want to wait if there are steps that we believe we can safely take now to ease the burden on Mississippians fighting this virus. There are thousands around the state that are set to close their doors for good. They cannot hold on much longer. I hope that this will not only be some much-needed relief for those restaurant employees but also provide for some joy for the people of Mississippi,” Reeves said.
In this latest executive order, Reeves lays out strict social distancing guidelines to begin the process of slowly and safely reopening restaurants and allowing outdoor recreation, including:
Before in-house dining can resume, the entire restaurant and bar must be deep-cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized top to bottom.
All restaurants and bars are expected to take every step necessary to implement the regulations, orders, and guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
All employees will be screened daily at the beginning of their shifts, including asking whether they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days and have they had a fever in the last 48 hours.
Cloth masks must be provided to all employees who come in direct contact with customers. Employees are required to wear that mask throughout their shift.
All employees must be provided training on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.
No more than 50 percent seating capacity in both indoor and outdoor dining areas, and floor plans must be updated to ensure at least 6 feet between each group. Party sizes will be limited to no more than 6 people per table.
Bars and bar areas that do no offer food services are to remain closed.
Minimizing person-to-person contact through technology, like mobile or online reservations and contact-less payment, is encouraged.
Customers will be screened upon entry. Restaurants and bars must post signage at each entrance stating no customer with a fever or COVID-19 symptoms are allowed in.
Cafeteria-style buffets and food stations that are manned by restaurant staff are allowed with appropriate barriers to limit contact. Self-service buffets, food stations, and drink stations are prohibited.
All restaurants and bars must place hand sanitizer at all entrances, hostess stations, in/near bathrooms, and at cashier stations.
Gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people for indoor activities and a maximum of 20 people for outside activities.
Parks can open to the public from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. for outdoor recreation under guidance from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and local authorities, with people following social distancing guidelines such as 6 feet separation. Outdoor recreation activities, such as swimming, are also allowed within those same hours.