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Natchez agrees to utilize governor’s guidelines to let restaurants, others, reopen

NATCHEZ — Restaurants and many other service-industry businesses will soon be able to reopen under strict guidelines in the City of Natchez.

City of Natchez officials on Tuesday unanimously amended a local “Stay at Home” order and adopted Gov. Tate Reeves’ Executive Orders 1478 and 1480 as the next phase of reopening businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said businesses including hair salons, gyms and restaurants could resume their operations as soon as they are able to fully adopt the guidelines laid out in the executive orders.

Businesses must deep clean their entire facility prior to opening, supply hand sanitizing stations, clean all touched surfaces at least every two hours and between each customer, close no later than 10 p.m., conduct daily health screenings of all of their employees and require all employees to wear face coverings and report any symptoms.

Restaurants must seat no more than 50% of their seating capacity and have at least 6 feet or more distance between groups.

“It is important to note that we are not in a safety zone. We are still in a state of emergency,” said William Thames, Natchez COVID-19 Task Force chairman.

Thames’ comments came during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, which was hosted via teleconference.

In addition to amending the city’s Stay at Home order, officials also adopted a city-wide curfew to be in effect between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The curfew was adopted at the request of Adam’s County Emergency Operations Center officials, who said their existing curfew that starts at 10 p.m. could be problematic for workers who are coming home from late shifts.

City officials also voted unanimously to revise an existing city ordinance that requires restaurant and bar owners to pay fees and liability bonds for sidewalk cafés so that more businesses could utilize outdoor dining.

The revised ordinance releases business owners from their obligation to pay a $25,000 liability bond and fees provided that they have liability insurance coverage that also protects the City of Natchez.