Restaurants asked to close dining rooms, but can provide take out

Published 4:30 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

Restaurants are being ordered to close dining rooms, some businesses are being ordered to close and social gatherings are being limited to 10 people in Pearl River County in response to COVID-19.

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency order on Monday limiting social gatherings to 10 people or less and ordering restaurants and bars to close dining rooms and only offer curbside, drive-thru or delivery service.

The order tells everyone in the county to heed warnings and directives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health, and orders everyone to practice social distancing and self quarantines. Social gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, who should be exercising social distancing.

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Citizens and businesses in the county are also ordered to comply with all orders and recommendations from the governor, MSDH, the President, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.


The city of Poplarville’s Mayor Rossie Creel entered a new executive order Monday that orders non-food retail establishments to close and requires self-serve buffets in grocery stores to be converted to staff serve only, and states that dining areas in grocery stores and convenience stories must be closed. The order tightens restrictions issued in an executive order Friday that required non-food retail establishments to limit the number of patrons entering their business.

The order requires performance venues, entertainment venues, recreational facilities, gyms, fitness centers and studios, non-food retail businesses, state-licensed cosmetology businesses, barber shops, and hair, beauty and nail salons to close.

The order reiterates requirements issued Friday that no on-site dining is allowed at restaurants, although curbside service, food delivery, takeout and drive-thru are allowed.

The order states that there can be no gatherings of more than 10 people for an event, public or private.

Grocery stores, supermarkets, drug stores, pharmacies, multi-purpose stores that sell groceries, health products or cleaning products, retailers with on-site pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware, garden supply and home improvement stores, veterinary clinics, banks, automobile service facilities and gas stations, professional offices that provide emergent client services like law offices and accountants and private cafeterias in nursing homes or similar facilities are not being asked to close or to limit the number of people in their establishments, because they offer vital supplies and services for the community, said Mayor Rossie Creel. Those businesses are being asked to practice social distancing, as recommended by the CDC.


Picayune City Manager Jim Luke also issued an executive order Monday that orders restaurants and bars to close to dine-in customers, although delivery, curbside service, drive-thru and takeout are allowed.

The order also mandates that public and private establishments including performance venues, entertainment venues, recreational facilities, gyms, fitness centers and studios to close until further notice.

The order also limits social gatherings to no more than 10 people, who are exercising social distancing.


The Board of Supervisors said they are grateful to restaurants and businesses that are already closed or switching to curbside service.

Mississippi’s Legislature is allowing elected officials in each county to make their own decisions about what actions to take to slow the spread of coronavirus, said Board President Sandy Kane Smith.

“They’re leaving it up to us to make the hard calls,” said Smith.

Members of the Board of Supervisors discussed seeing large events taking place in the county over the weekend, like crawfish boils and a gathering at a local park, which made the Board members feel an order restricting the size of social gatherings was necessary.

“We’ve got a lot of people in this county saying this is all political, it’s all a media scam, it’s all hype,” said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin. “I don’t care what you think about Democrats, what you think about Republicans, what you think about anybody. This isn’t a media event. This is a real serious event. We’ve got a lot of people that’s just taking the mindset that this is something that’s hyped up, and it’s not. I think that’s the hardest part. How do we change people’s attitudes to say this is serious, this is real?”

In a separate matter, the Board discussed how to keep county employees in the road department safe during the epidemic with Road Manager Charlie Schielder. The Board told Schielder to try to determine which employees may be at higher risk from COVID-19 and to find ways to help those employees work away from others as much as possible.

The Board also directed Schielder try to arrange for none of his employees to ride in groups in vehicles. Instead they will be asked to use their own vehicles to drive to job sites or be given rides individually to job sites.

Emergency Operations Manager Danny Manley said he does not have face masks that county employees could use, because so far any face masks that come through the EOC are being sent to Highland Community Hospital, to be distributed by Forrest Health to the two hospitals in the county and the first responders in ambulances as needed. Medical supplies for the hospital were supposed to be delivered at noon Monday, said Manley.

The Board plans to meet again at 9 a.m. on March 30. District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry asked if the Board could use Facebook live to hold their next meeting, but Lumpkin said he’s been advised that using Facebook live is not technically legal since people cannot ask questions. The Board plans to find some method to limit the number of people physically in the boardroom at their next meeting to slow the spread of COVID-19.