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City’s COVID-19 order amended for Thanksgiving holidays

For a five-day period, from midnight Nov. 25 to midnight Nov. 30, masks will be mandatory in Vicksburg.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Tuesday he will recommend mandatory facemasks in any public place — whether in a building or out — as part of an amendment to the city’s eight-month civil emergency order.

“We’re going to require people to wear masks when they’re outside,” he said. “We will be issuing fines of up to $1,000 for violations. This order is for five days only.”

People, however, will not have to wear masks outside if they can social distance, the mayor said.

Flaggs announced his plans to amend the order at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, saying he would make his recommendation “sometime next week.” The board meets Nov. 25.

“I know that Thanksgiving is not until next Thursday (but) I plan to recommend to the board to extend the civil emergency order to create some guidelines for five days while we celebrate Thanksgiving,” Flaggs said. “We must be proactive as it relates to the COVID virus in Mississippi.

“I might add that Mississippi has been named one of the hot spots, so we’re going to have to be proactive and mindful; we’re going to have to provide some guidance for the holiday period.”

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in July approved an emergency order requiring residents to wear masks and practice social distancing. The order has been amended several times and in October was extended through Dec. 2.

Besides extending the mask mandate through Dec. 2, the board continued many of the existing orders will also continue.

Anyone entering a business or public building, or where social distancing is not possible, must wear a mask.

Retail businesses and restaurants can continue to operate at 100 percent of capacity if social distancing can be maintained. Bars, too, can operate at 100 percent of capacity but must stop serving alcohol by 11 p.m. and close by midnight. They also must continue to serve only those who are seated and tables are limited to 10 people.

Gyms and fitness centers must still require face coverings and operate at no more than 75 percent of capacity. Movie theaters are allowed — and encouraged — to operate with no more than 75 percent capacity.

In those cases, hand sanitizer must be available at entrances and exits.

Dance studios, libraries, museums, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and places of amusement must require masks and can operate at 100 percent of capacity if social distancing can be maintained.

Reception halls and convention centers can return to 100 percent capacity as long as social distancing can be maintained. For seated meals, there should be at least six feet between tables and a maximum of 10 people per table.

The city is encouraging funerals to be held graveside, but they may be held at a church or funeral home at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. The City Auditorium is also available to accommodate funeral services.

If those services are for someone who died as a result of COVID-19, the auditorium can be used for “one-half of the regular auditorium fee.”

The juvenile curfew will remain in place. That curfew begins each evening at 7:30 p.m. and continues through 7:30 a.m.

The special law enforcement task force, which increases the number of department personnel, operates each Thursday at 7 p.m. and continues through Monday at 7 a.m.

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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