In a special called meeting Sunday (March 22) afternoon, Pontotoc Aldermen unanimously approved an executive order addressing new guidelines for business operations within the city limits of Pontotoc during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order included mandates regarding operation of non-essential and essential businesses in Pontotoc.

The executive order, effective midnight tonight (March 22) until next Sunday, March 29, reads:

“Whereas on March 13, Governor Tate Reeves issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency exists in the state of Mississippi as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19;

Whereas on January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for COVID-19 as a pandemic. And on March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a National State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 virus Pandemic.

Whereas as the City of Pontotoc declared a State of Local Emergency on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Whereas there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area.

Now, therefore, I, Bob Peeples, Mayor of the City of Pontotoc, by the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of the State of Mississippi, do hereby order and direct as follows:

Effective at midnight March 22, 2020, until 11:59 March 29, 2020, the following mandates shall take effect.

Non-essential businesses shall limit persons inside their establishments to less than 10 at one time. Examples of non-essential businesses are barber shops and beauty salons, nail salons, sporting goods stores, retail stores and gyms. The preceding list is given as a guideline.

We appreciate the cooperation of retailers and that they understand the spirit of this order. The main concern is to reduce human to human contact.

Essential businesses are defined as whether they provide essential workers or products to maintain the services and functions depended on daily and that need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 Pandemic response.

Examples of essential businesses are medical and health care clinics, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, cleaners and laundry mats, discount and dollar stores, banks, hardware stores, electrical stores, plumbing stores, auto parts stores, building material stores and day cares.

We ask the public’s cooperation to stay at home except when it is necessary to be out. We also ask them to shop locally when this emergency is over. Our local small businesses have been greatly impacted because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. These people are the backbone our our community who have invested time and money to serve us locally. Please encourage and pray for them.

Restaurants shall close their dining rooms and bar areas. They may continue to use drive thru, curbside delivery or other delivery services. We encourage them to continue to provide these services for those who may not be able to prepare meals.

We will increase Police presence after 8 p.m. each night.

This order will take effect immediately and end at 11:59 p.m. on March 29, 2020.

(Signed) Bob Peeples, Mayor, City of Pontotoc"

Mayor Peeples said these mandates are aimed at helping end the spread of the coronavirus as quickly as possible.

“These directives are a balancing act aimed at helping take care of folks in Pontotoc,” Peeples said. “So many things are changing by the minute.”

“It’s frustrating to everyone, but we’re doing the best we can with the information we have. We’re urging everyone to exercise common sense and stay away from other people as much as possible.”

Aldermen also passed a motion giving Mayor Peeples authority to rescind or extend the executive order as necessary.

Police Chief Randy Tutor told aldermen that more police officers will be patrolling the streets.

“We’re going to have more police out on the streets at night helping to increase police visibility and help enforce civil obedience,” Tutor said. “We’ve cancelled days offs and we’ll have extra officers out patrolling after 8 p.m. every night.”

Mayor Peeples said that city hall employees will continue their work inside the building, but the lobby of city hall will be closed.

“As a health precaution we’ve shut down the lobby and we’re rotating employees so that not all employees are here and exposed at one time,” Peeples said. “We have the drop box by the parking spaces and we have another one by the front door for dropping off payments. If someone needs to talk to us, they can call the city hall number.”

“If someone has a problem paying a water or gas bill, call us and we will work with them as best we can under these circumstances.”

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