HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker announced an updated executive order Tuesday night implementing new measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at Hub City businesses.
Under Barker’s new order, gas stations, automotive motive repair, laundromat, bicycle repair and liquor and beer stores should only allow 10 or fewer people in a business at a time.
Grocery stores, dollar stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and hardware and building material businesses will limit the number of people in a building at one time, corresponding with the building’s size. Guidelines are being sent to the stores and it is expected to be implemented by Thursday.
Businesses will also not allow lines to form at stores, with customers waiting in cars before entering. Businesses will also ensure that there is at least 6 feet of space between customers at check-out lines and that there is no clustering of people in sales areas.
Financial institutions should close the inside of buildings and only allow services through appointment and drive-through.
Nonessential businesses requiring close human contact such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas and massage therapy businesses will close.
Hair salons and barber shops may continue to operate by appointment only, and the barber, stylist or cosmetologist must wear personal protective equipment to cover their mouth. There must be no sitting areas for waiting customers and there can only be one customer in the building at a time.
Nonessential retailers, such as sporting goods, furniture, clothing and auto dealers, shall limit services to curbside services, pick-up or appointment only.
The executive order runs until April 30.
“I’m asking you to stay home, do only what is essential and then go home,” Barker said.
There are currently 14 positive COVID-19 cases in Forrest County, with two more in Lamar County. Barker said there more than 100 pending tests between Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg Clinic and Merit Health Wesley and the numbers are expected to increase.
Barker issued an executive order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 17, ordering restaurants, bars and coffee shops to reduce patrons and implementing social distancing guidelines. Barker revised the executive order on Saturday, ordering all restaurants to only offer take-out, pick-up, delivery or drive through services.
Bars, nightclubs, taverns, lounges as well as gyms and fitness centers were also closed under Saturday’s order. Gatherings of more than 10 people for any event were prohibited, including church services, weddings, concerts and other entertainment events.
Barker concluded Tuesday’s announcement with the following:
“We as a city can set policies that hopefully lead to good collective outcomes of flattening the curve; but the ultimate success of whether we slow the spread of coronavirus in the Hattiesburg community…depends on you.
You ultimately decide – on whether or not you make good decisions with your health and the health of those you come into contact with.
The reason that the city acts in the form of policy and executive order…acts that have devastating economic consequences to your fellow citizens…the reason we do that is to enable you to make better decisions. COVID-19 is dangerous. It is a threat to the lives of our people. I need you, I’m asking you – to stay home. Do only what is essential, and then go home.”