SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC) - Mississippi will take another big step forward tomorrow, allowing restaurants to reopen their dining areas. But at the same time, the state continues to see a rising number of COVID-19-related deaths.
Mississippi retail stores were able to reopen their doors last week with some social distancing restrictions.
On Thursday, restaurants will be able to reopen.
Frank Yates and his family will reopen their Southaven restaurant, The Country Skillet, on Thursday morning at 8 a.m.
They’ve been working around the clock preparing for the new normal.
“I've come up here every day since the day we closed and started preparing for reopening,” said Yates. “We’ve wiped down everything that can be touched.”
Under Gov. Tate Reeves’ order, restaurants can have no more than 50 percent capacity, customers must be screened at the door, have plenty of space between them, and servers must wear masks.
Yates says his customers will also have their temperatures checked upon entry.
But he and his family know there are still risks that come with reopening during a pandemic.
“I mean we don't know where these people have been. Even our good customers that have been coming in for years, I mean they could be exposed, so yes, we are concerned about that,” said Yates.
But like other restaurants who were forced to close, they’ve lost lots of income.
They were approved for a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loan but haven’t received it yet.
Reeves’ decision to let restaurants reopen comes on the heels of the state recording the highest number of daily COVID-19-related deaths, 32, two days in a row, bringing the total number of deaths to 374 and the total number of cases to 8,424.
But state leaders insist other numbers like hospitalizations are starting to plateau.
Even so, the governor warns Mississippians not to jump back to normal.
“The threat is not gone,” said Reeves. Even as we all want to move on, we have to stay vigilant.”
The governor’s safer-at-home order will stay in place until Monday, May 11, unless it is extended.