Governor signs statewide shelter-in-place order

By THOMAS HOWARD,

Gov. Tate Reeves signed a new executive order Tuesday establishing a statewide shelter-in-place for Mississippi to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Mississippians.

The order will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and continue until 8 a.m. Monday, April 20.

Reeves announced his decision to issue the shelter-in-place order for Mississippi at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, where he said the Mississippi Department of Health had determined the state at a critical point in the coronavirus outbreak.

“Every day, for the last several weeks, I have asked our health experts whether it is time for the ultimate action of a ‘shelter-in-place’ order statewide,” Reeves said. “Yesterday, for the first time, we got the answer we had been anticipating. They told me we are now at the point in Mississippi’s cycle where such drastic restrictions are required.”

Reeves order mandates the closure of parks, lakes, playgrounds, beaches and all indoor and outdoor recreation and amusement facilities. Nonessential businesses and nonprofit organizations will be required to stop operating and maintain only “minimum operations,” which are defined in the executive order as, “…activities necessary for the business or operation to maintain the condition of the facilities, premises and equipment, value of business inventory, payroll, employee benefits, security and to facilitate employees of the business or operation to continue to work remotely from their residences.”

The order also puts a temporary stay on residential evictions. Law enforcement is directed not to enforce eviction orders through April 20. The order, however, does not forgive or stop rent and mortgage payments.

Residents will be expected to stay home except for specific exceptions outlined in the executive order, which include getting food or medications, working at essential businesses and individual outdoor recreation. When venturing out, all Mississippians will be required to practice social distancing measures, including maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and not gathering in groups larger than 10 people.

“This will not be easy for anyone, but we believe it is right. We know that there are many people who are scared: wondering what this means for their wages and their ability to put food on the table,” Reeves said. “We are here for you and working hard to help. Mississippi will not allow you to fall without a hand to help you back up.”