JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi is on track to reopen more in the coming days.
Governor Tate Reeves believes a couple more steps can be made towards reopening before the Safer at Home order expires. Among those are reopening parks and allowing outdoor recreation in groups of no more than 20.
“That should be a large enough group to let kids get out and swing a bat or kick a ball or shoot a basket in the sun with their teams," said Reeves.
And restaurants will have restrictions loosened.
“There are thousands around the state that are set to close their doors for good," noted Reeves. “They cannot hold on very much longer.”
Starting Thursday at 8 AM, they can reopen to no more than 50 percent capacity. Servers will have to wear masks. Groups can’t exceed 6 people and each group must be spaced by at least 6 feet.
Among the businesses that will stay closed, salons and barbershops. Aimee Hartley owns The Loft Salon and Spa in Vicksburg.
“We’re really wanting to get back to work financially, mentally, physically, emotionally,” Hartley explained.
Hartley says they have a safety plan ready to use when they get the green light.
“If a client is willing to come and the esthetician or barber or stylist is OK with it, I think they should let us open," added Hartley.
But the Governor says his health and legal advice was that they must remain closed.
“I’ve instructed my team to come up with a plan to get some stabilization money out to salons and barbershops from the CARES Act funds," said Reeves. “It won’t be enough to make up for all the pain you have suffered. It’s not a replacement for your ability to earn a living. It’s just something... something I can do to help keep you stable.”
The complicating factor with that is that the fight is still going on between the legislature and the Governor on who has the authority to spend that money. The Governor has not yet taken any action as it relates to the bill the legislature passed Friday.
Here are some of the specific restrictions that will remain in place with the two most recent reopenings Thursday.
- 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% 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 9:00AM - 7:00PM 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.