Mayor strongly urges restaurants, bars comply with guidelines immediately

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell took additional steps to urge local businesses to adhere to President Trump’s National Coronavirus Guidelines — including closing dine-in restaurant service and in-house service at bars and nightclubs.

Grennell said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong will have officers deliver notices to businesses throughout the city, strongly urging all citizens and businesses to comply with the guidelines strictly.

“My primary concern is the health of the citizens of our community. The economy of every city in the United States will be affected by this pandemic,” Grennell said. “Once this pandemic is over, we will recover economically; however, we cannot recover lost lives. My first priority is saving lives here in Natchez, Adams County.”

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The notices to businesses asks bars and nightclubs to close in-house service immediately and move to takeout and delivery of foodservice. Bars and nightclubs located in the Leisure and Recreation District may also serve to-go cups at the door.

The notice also asks restaurants to close dine-in service immediately and provide takeout and delivery only. Drive-through services may remain open.

The mayor urges all movie theaters, malls, bowling alleys, gyms and health clubs to close immediately.

“I profoundly regret that it is necessary to call for additional limitations, but not everyone is understanding that we are in a state of emergency,” Grennell said. “Even if you are young or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

Grennell said he is grateful to businesses that have chosen to limit or close their businesses “out of an abundance of caution for the safety of their employees, fellow citizens and visitors.”

One business leader who has abided by the mayor’s request expressed concerns that another city department is sending conflicting signals by promoting restaurants that have not complied with the mayor’s request.

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Director Eugenie Cates said the city office of tourism’s list of area restaurants with dining rooms that are still open is unfair to those businesses, like her own that have voluntarily complied with the mayor’s requests.

Visit Natchez has started posting the status of area businesses on its website. The post lists area restaurants and businesses and the services they are offering during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Cates said Visit Natchez’s post unfairly promotes businesses that choose to “tweak their noses at the mayor’s request.”

Cates said Natchez Pilgrimage Tours chose to comply with the mayor’s request by postponing Spring Pilgrimage house tours and events. The Carriage House Restaurant, which is owned and operated by the Pilgrimage Garden Club, has closed its dining room and will be providing takeout lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

“Meanwhile, (Visit Natchez is) listing restaurants that are not in compliance,” Cates said. “They, in my opinion, should not be listed.”

Cates said she believes the city should not be promoting those restaurants when they are going against the mayor’s request.

Visit Natchez Director Jennifer Combs and Natchez Convention Promotion Commission Chairman Lance Harris said in a statement that the post was created to be an information resource.

“Visit Natchez and the NCPC created a web page ‘Local Business Update During COVID-19’ that presents information related to business operations,” the statement said. “This page is to be used as an informational tool for both residents and visitors.”

Combs and Harris said Visit Natchez is hopeful that the posting is beneficial to the community.

“We encourage anyone in Adams County to check the page often for updated information,” the statement said.