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Natchez adopts ‘Back to Business’ order outlining business guidelines

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen in a special-called meeting Thursday unanimously adopted a “Back to Business” order mirroring Gov. Tate Reeve’s Safer at Home order that relaxes some COVID-19 restrictions.

Reeve’s Executive Order 1477 became effective at 8 a.m. Monday and lasts through May 11.

Even though the governor’s order relaxes some of his earlier shelter-in-place order, the order allows local municipalities to place stricter requirements on their own orders, officials said.

The City of Natchez’s “Back to Business” order is effective immediately through May 31 and includes guidelines for reopening retail stores and some “non-essential” businesses and requires, among others, wearing masks, providing hand sanitizer and limiting the traffic coming into businesses.

The Board of Aldermen adopted the order per the recommendation of Natchez COVID-19 Task Force co-chairman William Thames, Chamber of Commerce president Debbie Hudson and FOR Natchez Executive Director Chesney Doyle with input from Natchez Inc.

The reopening of businesses does not apply to everyone, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said after Thursday’s meeting.

“Our plan is to get (the guidelines) out to businesses that can reopen starting today and tomorrow,” Grennell said Thursday. “Some places are not going to reopen because they can’t enforce social distancing.”

The state and local orders still prohibit public and private gatherings of more than 10 people in a single space where individuals are within less than 6 feet of one another.

The governor’s Safer at Home order states “fitness and exercise gyms, dance studios, clubs, tattoo parlors, spas, salons, barbershops and all other personal care and personal grooming facilities shall remain closed but may continue minimum operations limited to retail sales by drive-thru, curbside and/or delivery services.”

The order states other businesses that can reopen “shall adopt reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Reeves’ executive order and the local order also specify that restaurants and bars will remain limited to drive-thru, curbside or delivery service.

Thames said Mississippi has not yet seen a decrease in the number of recorded cases COVID-19 and the number of people who were placed in ICU or on ventilators with the disease.

Thames said 19 patients from Adams County are still hospitalized with the disease, only one is on a ventilator and at least six have been transferred from Merit Health Natchez to other hospitals.

However, the social and economical demands of the city require some business practices to resume operation, Thames said.

“We’re still not beyond the peak of our curve,” Thames said.