Masks ‘recommended’ but not mandated in Miss.; Businesses now unrestricted

Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 3:49 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is massively scaling back COVID-19 protocols in Mississippi.

He is replacing all current executive orders with “recommendations.”

This effectively ends all mask mandates within the state. it also means businesses will be able to operate under full capacity with no restrictions.

“Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19. Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.”

The only rules remaining in place will limit capacity of indoor arenas to 50% and rules governing K-12 schools.

The new order begins March 3 at 5 p.m. and will extend until at least March 31.

Reeves says Mississippians are still encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“Everyone should continue to listen to Dr. Dobbs and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID. Their insight is valuable,” Reeves said.

He says the time for government interference is over, as the risk for over-capacitated hospitals has shrunk.

“Executive orders that interfered with people’s lives were the worst, but the only possible interventions for most of the past year,” he said.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs advised that the spread of the virus is not over, and that new cases and deaths are still increasing.

He says the department of health is still “strongly recommending” anyone over 65 and anyone 16 or over with a chronic medical condition avoid social gatherings until they are able to be vaccinated.

Reeves admits the virus will continue to spread, and cases will rise.

“We continue to see new cases of the virus every day, just like we see new cases of the flu every day,” he said. Flu cases are the lowest they have been in decades.

He says Mississippians should be able to assess their own risk and make decisions based on their health status.

The focus now turning to the vaccine distribution and how the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be incorporated into the rotation at Mississippi sites this week.

“We have been allocated 24,000 doses of vaccine this week of the Johnson and Johnson,” described Dobbs.

“We do believe, based upon a call I had with the task force earlier this morning, by the end of March, early April, we should be getting at least that much and probably a good bit more of the J&J on a weekly basis going forward,” added Reeves.

Johnson and Johnson availability is now listed on the appointment site and you can select it if that is the type you’d like to receive at the location where available.

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