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Leaders should avoid orders, mandates they simply cannot enforce

Tuesday evening, during a press conference, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. was questioned about the idea of issuing an order requiring residents to wear facemasks in Vicksburg as the city faces a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Wednesday afternoon, during a press conference, Gov. Tate Reeves was asked if he planned to include a mask mandate in a series of executive orders he is considering to address the rise in cases statewide.

In both cases, both men said such orders, such mandates, such requirements were not something they wanted to do, or were looking to do. For now.

While masks are a proven deterrent to both transmitting and contracting the virus, it is not the role of government, in our opinion, to order such. While wearing masks is the very least we as a society, as a community, should do in helping curb the spread of the virus, it should not be included in government orders and restrictions.

And the reason for objecting to such an order or mandate is not because we believe doing so is an infringement of our liberties or rights as American citizens. No. It is because there is simply no way to enforce it.

Government at every level has enough regulation, orders and requirements, but at all times, they should be limited to the ones that can be enforced. Do not put something on paper simply to put something on paper.

Instead, requirements to wear masks should come from private citizens and businesses. It is there that a much bigger difference can be made.

If we as a community want to slow the spread of the virus, then we should have the common courtesy to wear a mask when in public. We should adhere to social distancing guidelines. If businesses want to require anyone entering their business to wear a mask, then they should and could do so. That is private property and private business.

Just this week, the city of Vicksburg approved the hiring of a compliance officer whose job it will be to make sure the orders and mandates already in place through the city’s civil emergency order are being enforced. How many compliance officers would it take to make sure your neighbor walking their dog this evening is wearing a mask?

We believe wearing a mask is important and should be at the very heart of any effort to curtail this potentially deadly disease. But that effort is best left to the public and private businesses, and not to any governmental mandate at any level.

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