Gov. Reeves adds 6 counties to mask mandate, tightens restrictions for bars

Gov. Reeves adds 6 counties to mask mandate, tightens restrictions for bars
Gov. Tate Reeves (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves altered his Safe Return order in an effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in his state.

Friday, Reeves announced an amendment to the order that impacts bars and social gatherings across the state.

  • Social gatherings are limited to 10 or less indoors and 20 or less outdoors.
  • Bars can only sell alcohol to seated customers, and no alcohol can be sold at restaurants or bars after 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM. Previous social distancing measures, such as limiting to 50% capacity, updating floor plans to ensure 6 feet distance between groups, and limiting to 6 people per table, remain in effect.

“In Mississippi, our bars should look more like restaurants and less like mobs for COVID-19 spread,” Reeves said.

Six additional counties are also added to the restrictions previously announced for 23 counties.

These include: Calhoun, Holmes, Lamar, Montgomery, Winston, and Yalobusha counties.

“You cannot safely crowd up by the bar and mix with lots and lots and lots of people,” said Reeves.

It’s a more lenient approach than some surrounding states.

“The decision making process is trying to weigh a strong philosophical bent against doing anything to hurt small businesses while at the same time doing everything in our power to make sure that we slow the spread of this virus,” said Reeves.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says this new order is critical.

“Anytime you put a lot of people together, especially indoors but also outdoors... social stuff is killing us,” said Dobbs. “It’s going to be a party. It’s going to be people hanging out. It’s going to be things that normally we applaud as a strong element of society. We need to avoid being around other folks as much as we can.”

The order targets counties with the most worrisome spikes in COVID-19 cases in the Magnolia State.

The other 23 counties in the order are: Bolivar, Claiborne, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Grenada, Harrison, Hinds, Humphreys, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Panola, Quitman, Rankin, Sunflower, Sharkey, Simpson, Tallahatchie, Tate, Washington, Walthall and Wayne counties.

With another 1,610 cases reported Friday, the Mississippi Department of Health continues to report increasingly higher case totals.

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