HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker announced a new executive order Wednesday that will place further restrictions on bars, nightclubs and restaurants as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The new executive order comes as college students are expected to return to Hattiesburg campuses in the coming weeks.
“From the beginning, we’ve stated that our three goals in response to COVID-19 are to protect our vulnerable, prevent the overrun of our health care system and prioritize public health while giving our private sector the room to operate creatively,” said Barker. “Right now, goals one and two are not being met - and we have a small window to make decisions that can change that trajectory for the better.”
Under the order, bars, nightclubs, music venues and indoor entertainment venues must close by 10 p.m.
Restaurants must stop dine-in services, both indoor and outdoor, by 10 p.m.
The city is suspending all dance hall permits as well.
The order will go into effect on Friday and expire on Monday, Aug. 17, unless extended.
Barker cited the return of students and the need to prevent the overrun of our health care system as a reason for the executive order.
Barker said Merit Health Wesley and Forrest General Hospital have maxed out their initial ICU capacities and are now operating under ICU surge plans. He also said one of Forrest County’s hospitals has no more acute beds available.
“We have a limited amount of time to change course,” Barker said. “And I can’t drive this point home. I’m not trying to scare you. We just have to make good decisions, because if you were in a car accident tonight or someone you know had a medical emergency, you want the healthcare to be there to take care of those folks.”
The new restrictions are in addition to mask, capacity and social distancing requirements in place under previous executive orders.
Last week, Gov. Tate Reeves announced an executive order that prevented bars and restaurants from selling alcohol to customers after 11 p.m. Under that order, bars can only serve alcohol to seated customers.