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DeSoto County supervisors, adhering to social distancing, held a special meeting Sunday afternoon that passed a proclamation urging residents stay at home and protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic. City governments have used meetings that include some members calling in to help stay safe while transacting city business.

Civil emergencies have been declared in all four DeSoto County cities, and the County Board of Supervisors is urging its residents to stay at home to help flatten the curve of cases and curtail activities until the pandemic has passed. 

All four cities have held special meetings this past week that resulted in civil emergency ordinances or resolutions being passed. Supervisors also met Sunday afternoon to pass its own proclamation.

Sunday’s proclamation by DeSoto County recommended and strongly encouraged that residents stay at home and that all events of more than 10 people cease where possible. All events should be limited to not include older people or those with medical conditions that make them more susceptible to coronavirus.

The county action also stated that restaurants should not operate dine-in facilities and only do a drive-through, curbside and/or delivery service.

Exemptions to the proclamation are first responders, emergency personnel, dispatchers, court and law enforcement personnel, and school personnel working on the direction of an administrator.

“We want to protect our citizens, reach out to them and let them know how important this is to follow these simple steps,” Supervisor Lee Caldwell said after the meeting. “We want to protect our citizens. We’re strongly encouraging our citizens to follow these steps.”

The county updates its information on its official website, www.desotocountyms.gov.

Sunday, the county’s two largest cities, Southaven and Olive Branch, held special meetings to enact civil emergency ordinances. The mayors, Darren Musselwhite of Southaven and Olive Branch’s Scott Phillips, followed that by Monday issuing a joint proclamation that further details what is allowed under their civil emergencies.

The proclamation may be found online on the Southaven official website (www.southaven.org) and for Olive Branch (www.obms.us).

In Southaven, all restaurant dining rooms, bars, nightclubs, lounges, taverns, gyms, theaters, and all recreational and amusement facilities are closed.

In Olive Branch, all restaurant dining rooms are closed, and no bar, tavern, or similar establishment shall allow any inside service or on-premises consumption.

Both cities ordered all non-essential operations to implement the Centers for Disease Control guidelines of no more than 10 people. Violations are determined to be punishable as a misdemeanor.

An extensive listing of essential services is listed in the proclamation for both cities and includes, but not limited to, healthcare and public health facilities, government operations, food services, gas stations, banks, and similar institutions, media outlets, critical trades, lodging facilities, lawn care services, and organizations offering essential charity activities.

Southaven officials continue reassessing the information and will lift the order when they feel they can do so. Olive Branch has an April 21 date certain, although the city can extend it if officials feel they need to.

Horn Lake and Hernando Boards of Aldermen passed separate resolution measures on Monday but had to return to meet Tuesday to amend their actions to allow restaurants to operate inside pick-up by customers, as long as the CDC limitations of 10 people or less are adhered to.

Hernando’s action Tuesday added an ordinance to enforce the resolution with a fine or jail time for violations.

“Any such restaurant or establishment allowing ‘carryout’ shall practice the ‘social distancing’ as recommended by the CDC for any patrons entering such restaurant or other such establishments,” Hernando aldermen added to its resolution on Tuesday.

Horn Lake’s amendment added similar language to state “such (carryout/take out) restaurants shall adhere to the guideline of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to limit crowds or gatherings to no more than 10 people (including employees/employers) inside their establishment for carryout/take-out and shall adhere to the CDC guideline for spacing/social distancing.”

Discussion in Hernando Tuesday included a request for a variance by one event center owner to allow up to 25 people for his facility, a request that was denied. The owner said he was obligated to ask on behalf of a bride because special circumstances required either a wedding already paid for be held there or “in a backyard.”

“What we’re trying to do is protect the health and safety of the people in this community,” Mayor Tom Ferguson responded. “Are they willing to go against the regulations and recommendations of the Mississippi State Department of Health?”, in denying the request.

Before passing its resolution, Horn Lake aldermen expressed support while also concerned about businesses that will be impacted by it. Outside of Alderman Charlie Roberts, Mayor Allen Latimer, and a few others being inside the board room, the remaining Horn Lake board members were meeting by teleconference at the hastily-called emergency meeting.

“We thought we were on the same page with the other cities,” Latimer said. “But the rest of them will allow the take out and coming inside. That put our businesses in the hole, so to speak.”

Both cities have also detailed their resolutions, what is allowed and what is not allowed, on their official websites, at www.hornlake.org (Horn Lake) and www.cityofhernando.org (Hernando).