Southaven will return to the shelf, for now, its Comeback Plan to roll businesses and activities back toward normal from the economic and lifestyle effects of COVID-19.
The action to pull back on Mayor Darren Musselwhite’s “33/50/100 Comeback Plan” comes after the latest executive order announced Friday from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.
“We will respectfully cooperate with the governor,” Musselwhite said at a Friday special meeting held with all seven aldermen attending remotely. “We will put our plan on hold and go with his plan, which is much different than ours.”
Reeves Friday announced he would end the Shelter-in-Place order on Monday, April 27, amending restrictions to what he calls a Safer-At-Home order for the entire state until May 11.
Musselwhite said the city would start to adapt its plan to the May 11 date, but he added he has been hearing from Southaven residents wanting to get the city going again.
“I know that you need to know more than just a week or two weeks at a time,” Musselwhite said. “I understand the governor needs to wait for other data to come in. We’re in the same situation that he is in at a different level. It’s time that we have a long-term plan in addition to a short-term plan.”
Under Reeves’ Safer-At-Home order, set to go into effect on April 27 at 8 a.m. and be in effect until May 11, unless rescinded or modified, Mississippians are still encouraged to remain home, except for essential activities or travel; maintain CDC directives of social distancing six feet or more between people; not gather in groups of 10 or more; and movie theaters, salons, gyms, museums, and other businesses that cannot avoid sustained person-to-person contact will remain closed.
Those locations may continue curbside pick-up, drive-through, or delivery of retail sales, but not services. Restaurants and bars may offer drive-through, curbside pick-up, and/or delivery service, but dining areas must remain closed. Businesses and non-profit organizations should continue to encourage telework or work from home options for employees where possible.
Retail businesses where possible may open with up to 50-percent of occupancy limits allowed in the store at one time. Hand sanitizers must be made available to customers when they enter the store.
Elective medical and dental procedures may be done as allowed by the state Department of Health but must limit and not ask for additional personal protective equipment.
Those residents age 65 and over or those who have vulnerable medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and such, should consider themselves to still be under the Shelter-in-Place order to protect their health.
Facilities that are closed under Reeves’ order include volleyball courts, bowling alleys, billiard halls, baseball, softball, football and soccer fields, basketball courts, and other indoor training locations.
All evictions are suspended, but residents must still continue to pay rent or make mortgage payments.
The mayor said churches would remain closed during Reeves’ plan, but said the governor wanted houses of worship to continue using Livestream and parking lot service options to bring congregations together.
“Churches, for physical gatherings only, are still required to limit gatherings to 10 persons or less,” said Musselwhite. “He did mention that he encouraged the remote means that have been in place now, including in-vehicle parking lot services.”
Musselwhite added local ministers are being involved about that issue and they will offer their recommendations about the city’s gradual return, starting in May.
The Southaven mayor expects to have a modified Comeback Plan in place when Reeves’ Safer-At-Home order expires. He urged Southaven citizens to “hang in there,” while encouraging Reeves to come up with the longer vision of how the state would look past the date in May.
“I think our people need more hope and we need to know what happens past May 11,” Musselwhite said. “I would encourage Gov. Reeves to consider a long-term plan. We need to know what happens after May 11.”