TUPELO • After issuing some of the most stringent safety restrictions in the state related to the spread of COVID-19, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton is amending some of the items issued in his previous executive orders to note apparent conflicts with a new statewide mandate from the governor.
Shelton issued a new executive order on Wednesday that clarifies what orders are still in place in Tupelo after the governor issued his own statewide order. The second-term Democratic mayor’s mandate is essentially a copy of his previous order, but it highlights every area of the order that, in his view, have been superseded, or overridden, by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.
Also as part of the new executive order, all orders, including the shelter in place, are in place until April 17.
“On a personal level, I wanted the public to know that it’s not the city of Tupelo relaxing the safety standards,” Shelton told the Daily Journal.
Reeves issued an executive order on Tuesday that banned any gathering of more than 10 people and ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms unless restaurants limited their capacity to a maximum of 10 people — conflicting with a previous order issued by the city of Tupelo.
According to Shelton's administration the city’s previous order that closed dining facilities in restaurants completely is now changed to comply with Reeves’ order to allow restaurants to open dining facilities as long as it complies with the governor’s imposed limit.
Shelton said he and other administration leaders were meeting with local business owners to discuss the new order to see if they could reasonably abide by the new order.
“We don’t have a choice but to go by what the governor says,” Shelton told Council members in a work session.
The City Council previously ratified an order that would close all non-essential businesses for around a week. In his order, Reeves did not issue an order closing any business, but he did give a definition of what businesses were considered essential, which was a more broad definition than what other cities have considered essential, which would give Tupelo businesses the option to reopen.
Shelton said that by the governor’s definition “virtually everything” is considered an essential business.
The city also mandated that Tupelo citizens shelter in place, or not travel anywhere unless going to an essential job or conducting essential tasks. The mayor said that the governor’s order doesn’t change anything about the shelter in place order, but it does allow more people to travel and be in contact with one another.
“To an extent, what it does is it puts more people out on the streets,” Shelton said. “If more people are out on the streets, they’re in gas stations, and that puts more people in contact with one another.”
Shelton repeatedly called for Reeves to issue a statewide order addressing health restrictions on a uniform basis. Shelton told the Daily Journal even though he thought Reeves "relaxed" on some safety measures, he thanked Reeves for issuing a uniform order.
Since the Council did not conduct an official meeting, a formal vote did not occur to ratify an order. But nearly all of the Council voiced approval for the mayor’s newest order.
The Council can either wait until its next regular meeting on April 6 or convene a special meeting to ratify Shelton’s newest order.