djr-2021-02-25-news-mask-mandate-arp1

A Tupelo resident strolls past the lunch crowd outside of Amsterdam Deli and KOK wearing his mask in Downtown Tupelo.

TUPELO • City leaders in Tupelo have no plans to issue local executive orders related to COVID-19 such as a mask mandate or restaurant capacity limits that are more restrictive than the governor’s statewide order.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday he was amending Executive Order 1549 to remove all restrictions except those aimed at K-12 schools and large indoor venues. However, he said local governments could provide more restrictive policies, if they saw fit.

In a statement following the governor’s announcement, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said the city will follow the governor’s amended order while also advising residents to remain vigilant in protecting themselves from the virus.

“I encourage our citizens to continue taking safety precautions recommended by CDC, Dr. Thomas Dobbs and the Mississippi State Department of Health to avoid the spread of the virus as we are still in a global pandemic,” Shelton said. “It is important that everyone get vaccinated at their earliest opportunity.”

Shelton, who has previously been a strong proponent of local COVID-19 restrictions, told the Daily Journal on Tuesday that he ultimately decided not to issue a local order that goes beyond the governor’s restrictions because it wouldn’t be fair for Tupelo to have stricter restrictions than its fellow Lee County municipalities.

“It would put our business, restaurants at a competitive disadvantage,” Shelton said of a local order. “I don’t necessarily agree with what the governor’s doing, but as a practical matter, it doesn’t make sense for the city of Tupelo to go it alone with something different.”

Shelton, however, did say he would follow the advice of medical leaders at North Mississippi Medical Center.

“If the leadership at North Mississippi Medical Center told me that we’re making a mistake by not going above and beyond the governor’s executive order, then I will immediately issue a different order,” Shelton said.

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