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Flaggs: Mask mandate, other COVID restrictions could be lifted in two weeks

Vicksburg’s mask mandate could soon be lifted.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said at a Friday press conference he anticipates ending the emergency order for COVID-19 approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen March 18, 2020, in two weeks. The order established the mask mandate and other restrictions affecting gatherings and local businesses.

“You’ve done the job we’ve asked you to do,” Flaggs told city residents. “We’re down to a point where the numbers reflect that we’re only averaging about 3.2 (cases) a day.

“If these numbers continue, I have every reason to believe that in two weeks we can completely remove the civil emergency order for the citizens of Vicksburg,” he said.

“There will no longer be a mask mandate if we can continue doing what we’re doing today.”

Once the civil order is lifted, he said, it will be up to individuals and business owners to determine whether to continue social distancing or wearing masks.

“We will totally rely on you as individuals and collectively to govern yourselves accordingly and to make certain that you do everything necessary that is humanly possible to make certain that we are safe in our community,” Flaggs said.

He said people called him about lifting the civil emergency immediately.

“I cannot in good conscience do it today because I do think two more weeks out of a whole year won’t hurt us to do the things that we’ve asked you to do,” he said.

Flaggs said beginning immediately he was lifting the restrictions on restaurants and bars that forced them to stop serving alcohol by midnight and close at 1 a.m. Businesses serving alcohol on the premises can now close at 2 a.m.

“I hope that this will allow you to increase your revenue and increase your participation,” Flaggs said. “Govern yourself accordingly. This does not open up the doors for violence or any crime to go up.”

The mayor said the 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. juvenile curfew will remain in effect until the end of the school year and the police department’s special law enforcement task force will continue increased patrols Thursday through Sunday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“Crime is a concern of this administration; crime is a concern for everybody,” Flaggs said, adding violent crime in the city is down compared with 2020.

“We still have too many shooters or too many people discharging firearms in this community,” he said. He said the city has put portable cameras at different locations in the city in an effort to catch people breaking the law.

“I told you if you allow everybody to carry guns, not only the good guys are going to have guns but the bad guys, too, and we’re seeing that to be true today.”

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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