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Natchez follows Adams County in passing curfew exceptions

NATCHEZ — Natchez and Adams County officials are granting exceptions to a curfew created due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exceptions will allow people to travel during the curfew hours — between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. every night — to and from work at lawfully opened businesses.

Adams County officials voted unanimously during a regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday to give the exception to the county’s curfew allowing workers and patrons at those businesses to travel during the curfew hours.

The exceptions do not allow people to loiter outside of businesses, officials said.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the request stemmed from conversations with owners of the Magnolia Bluff’s Casino who wanted to allow casino employees to clean and sanitize surfaces between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. after the casino reopens May 21.

The exemption would also be extended to patrons and employees of other businesses that serve food after curfew, officials said.

City of Natchez officials during a special-called meeting on Tuesday followed up with an act similar to the county act. However, city officials only granted the exception to people who are 21-years-old or older.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted by majority to amend a section of the city’s “Stay at Home” order allowing the exception to the city’s curfew.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith asked Natchez City Attorney Bob Latham why the city’s order is more restrictive than the county’s order.

Latham said the change to the order had more to do with crime than with COVID-19.

“In our conversations the police chief (Walter Armstrong) said persons under 21 need to stay at home,” Latham said. “They are the ones who tend to be mischievous and get into trouble. If you just leave it open for anyone then all the youth could go out and simply say they’re free to travel under this order.”

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said allowing younger people to travel after curfew could also be an issue with COVID-19.

“If they are hanging out and congregating in a parking lot or neighborhood, that also enhances the spread of this disease,” Grennell said.

Officials passed the revision on a vote of 5-1 with Smith voting “nay” because of the age restrictions, she said.

“I thought those of you who were invited to be on the call with the EOC (Emergency Operations Council) and the county on Sunday, the point was to try to get something in place that everyone agreed with,” Smith said. “There is so much confusion already, and I don’t understand why we would do it differently. For instance, 100 Main or Natchez Manor might have employees that are under 21 or might have someone eating there that is under 21 and I don’t understand the changes.”

The amendment to the city’s “Stay at Home” order is effective immediately and the order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 31, officials said.