TUPELO • Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday morning announced that he is extending a mask mandate and other COVID-19 safety restrictions for Benton, Marshall and Lee counties. The new order is set to expire on Dec. 11.
Attempting to curb the transmission of the virus, the latest mandate will continue to require residents in these three Northeast Mississippi counties and 12 other counties in the state to wear masks when inside public buildings where social distancing is not possible.
For restrictions on crowds, the governor’s order limits indoor social gatherings where social distancing is not possible to no more than 10 people and limits outdoor gatherings where social distancing is not possible to 50 people.
Local and state law enforcement officers can enforce the order by issuing citations or other penalties for those who do not comply with the order.
Reeves in a statement said that even though Mississippians are likely tired and ready to move on from safety restrictions, “the virus is still here.”
“It’s still working to infect and kill,” Reeves said of the virus. “We’ve gotten far better at dealing with it, and allowing for life to go on. But we’re not all the way there yet. Keep fighting and protecting the most vulnerable in your life. No matter where you are, please do your best to social distance and wear a mask.”
Other counties included in the mandate are Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Rankin, and Yalobusha counties, totaling 15 counties now under more stringent COVID-19 orders than the rest of the state.
Reeves also extended his “Safe Recovery” order, which outlines less restrictive safety measures for all other counties in the state to follow. The safe recovery order requires people to wear a mask while on school campuses and asks for businesses to make good faith efforts to comply with federal health guidelines.
Restaurants and bars must still update floor plans for in-person dining to ensure that tables are 6 feet apart from one another. No more than 10 people can be seated together at a table, and restaurants and bars may only serve alcohol to customers who are seated.
Reeves’ latest orders come after the virus has affected his own family. On Tuesday, the first-term Republican governor announced that his youngest daughter has tested positive for the virus and that his family would be isolating for an unspecified amount of time.
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Wednesday reported that 1,256 new people have tested positive for the virus and that 17 additional people have died from the virus.