TUPELO • Mayor Jason Shelton will require all restaurants in the city to only offer food services by delivery, curbside pickup, carry out or a drive-thru.
“This is still what I view as taking the least stringent view right now as a city,” Shelton told the Daily Journal in a telephone interview.
An executive order issued Thursday evening states that, effective immediately and until Monday, all restaurants must limit in house dining to either less than 50% of occupancy limitations or 20 people at one time, whichever is less. Restaurants must also adhere to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a six foot distance between people.
If any restaurants cannot adhere to the temporary measures, then the business must immediately shift to only offering services by curbside, drive-thru, or similar measures.
Beginning on Monday, March 23, all restaurants will be required to only offer services through drive-thru, curbside or delivery and close in-house dining facilities altogether.
The order comes after Shelton told the Journal on Tuesday at a City Council work session that he had no immediate plans to issue more stringent orders to businesses to curb the spread of the virus.
“What I’m hoping for and really feel strongly about is that the state needs to be a little bit more proactive on statewide safety measures because that’s going to create a lot more problems when you have restaurants closing in one city and not the other one,” Shelton told the Journal on Tuesday. “You’re going to encourage even more travel back and forth, which is counterproductive. We need some statewide direction on some of those safety measures.”
Shelton later clarified on Thursday that the viral spread is a “fluid situation,” and explained that the new order was the result of the “continuing escalation of the issue.”
“I still strongly feel this is an issue the Mississippi State Department of Health should be addressing on a uniform statewide basis,” Shelton said. “I certainly want to be as polite as possible and as deferential as possible. I’m not exactly sure why there hasn’t been any action yet.”
Under the new order, all recreational entertainment facilities such as skating rinks, bowling alleys and arcades will also be forced to close, and if no state or federal action is taken by Monday regarding day care facilities, Shelton will issue a new executive order to address them.
Shelton has now issued executive orders temporarily banning hotels from serving breakfast buffets to guests and temporarily halting all parks and recreation athletic activities. He’s also reduced the number of city employees who are physically working at municipal buildings by requiring as many employees as possible work from home unless called in by an immediate supervisor.
The Tupelo City Council will convene a work session at 9:30 a.m. on Friday to discuss the order and whether or not to ratify the new actions.