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Natchez mayor grants outdoor dining waivers, city to consider next steps for re-opening

NATCHEZ — Restaurants and bar operators in the City of Natchez may request a waiver of the local COVID-19 regulation that prevents outdoor dining by emailing a request to City Hall at mayor@natchez.ms.us.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said businesses that receive the waiver may offer full-service dining in their outdoor spaces if they can follow the regulations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mississippi State Department of Health as well as state and local COVID-19 regulations.

The mayor initiated the waiver program in response to a Thursday request from David Gammill, owner of Fat Mama’s Tamales.

The waiver allows socially-distanced customer seating at Gammill’s outdoor deck area.

Pedro’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, Natchez Brewing Company, the Natchez Grand Hotel, NX Level Cooking, Andrew’s Pub, and The Carriage House also requested and received outdoor dining waivers.

In addition to deep cleaning and other sanitation procedures, the outdoor dining regulations include limiting the number of customers to 50 percent of their seating capacity, updating floor plans to ensure at least six feet of separation between each party or group and limiting party sizes to six customers per table.

Bars that do not offer food services are to remain closed and live music is not permitted, officials said.

On May 1, City of Natchez officials initiated reopening certain categories of business, including nonessential retail businesses and health care services, and offered guidelines for conducting their services with the intention of more openings over the next few weeks.

Grennell said citizens should also not be afraid to seek medical attention for their healthcare needs during the pandemic.

“It is very important that people get back on track with their medical care. Call your doctor or go to the hospital if you are sick. A burst appendix or a stroke is as deadly as COVID-19 can be,” Grennell said.

Geoffrey Flattmann, M.D., general surgeon and Merit Health Natchez Chief of Staff said patients should reschedule any healthcare procedures that were delayed due to COVID-19.

“It is important to reschedule healthcare procedures that have been delayed so health conditions do not deteriorate,” Flattmann said. “Our medical staff and hospital employees are totally prepared to take care of you safely. It is vitally important to seek emergency medical care when needed.”

Officials said the City’s “Stay Home Order,” which places restrictions on certain businesses and public spaces, is still in effect through May 31 due to the fact that Adams County still has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in Mississippi. However, officials said the Mayor and Board of Aldermen are scheduled to host a regular meeting via teleconference on Tuesday and will likely determine careful and responsible next steps for additional re-openings at that time.

“During the critical weeks ahead, we must work together with trust, respect, and determination to do the best we can for ourselves and each other,” Grennell said. “We are not in a safety zone. Our success as a community depends on everyone’s personal choices. Everyone is required to wear a mask when conducting in-person business in the City. Please, always sanitize and wash your hands; don’t congregate in groups greater than 10 for any reason; and maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from others in public at all times. This virus is extremely contagious. We could easily cause a spike in infections and deaths in our community by not taking the risks and the precautions seriously.”

Contact Pam Patterson at ppatterson@natchez.ms.us for instructions on how to virtually join Tuesday’s teleconference meeting or visit the natchez.ms.us. after the meeting where a recording of the teleconference will be posted.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit www.natchez.ms.us or CDC.gov/COVID19 or msdh.ms.gov/coronavirus or call the Mississippi Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline at 877-978- 6453, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.