• 50°

Reeves lifts COVID-19 executive orders, local mask mandates remain in place

While Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday plans to remove all COVID-19 restrictions, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Vicksburg’s existing COVID-19 restrictions — including a mask mandate — will remain in place “for now.”

“I want to watch our numbers for another week,” Flaggs said. “Our orders will remain in place for now.”

The city’s COVID-19 orders, which are currently set to expire on April 1, require a mask mandate for anyone inside a business or public building.

Reeves, during a press conference in Jackson, said he is lifting executive orders that required masks to be worn and restrictions on businesses that limited indoor capacity. But, cities and counties — including Warren County which has a mask mandate in place — can enact stronger restrictions than what the governor orders.

Cities and counties cannot put in place any orders that are less restrictive than the state.

Warren County’s COVID-19 orders are set to expire on April 5.

“The governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do,” Reeves said during his news conference Tuesday.

Until now, most of Mississippi’s 82 counties had been under a mask mandate for months. Reeves said the number of people hospitalized because of the virus has decreased in recent weeks, and vaccination numbers are increasing.

Reeves said he is issuing a new executive order that takes effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday and remains in place until March 31.

He said rules for K-12 schools are not changing. Schools will still require masks where social distancing is not possible. There are also still limits on seating at K-12 school events: 25 percent capacity for indoor events and 50 percent for outdoor events. The new capacity for seating at indoor arenas for colleges is 50 percent. Club areas in arenas are limited to 75 percent of their seating capacity.

Reeves said he is encouraging other people to wear face coverings but is not requiring it. He is asking people to follow recommendations from the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

Dobbs said in response to questions Tuesday that it’s still a good idea for people to avoid large, unmasked gatherings.

“There’s no way in heck I would go sit in a crowded bar right now,” Dobbs said.