BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - A majority of the statewide COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Gov. Tate Reeves expired at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. While some aren’t too eager about the changes, some restaurant owners and people in Bay St. Louis are thrilled.
“I just think it’s a good thing,” said Rod Ward. “We can only be held down for so long.”
Inside local businesses, most owners, like Jeffry Hensell of Smoke BBQ in Bay St. Louis, look forward to getting back to normal operations.
“I hope it will be back to normal,” Hensell said. “Hearing the news yesterday was definitely nice. It’s kind of hard working in kitchens and tight spaces in the heat and everything with masks.”
Ward also added “These businesses have to pay their bills and employees have to pay their bills. I think we’ve learned and went through the curve and it’s time to open her up.”
Businesses can now operate under full capacity with no restrictions in place, leaving everything in the owner’s hands. Hensell said he’ll let his customers decide what’s best for them.
“Our employees and our patrons decide kind of how they want to do it,” Hensell said. “If they feel safer with a mask or distancing, we’re going to let them decide.”
With restrictions now lifted, many think this is an opportunity to put the pandemic behind us. Keith Ladner, visiting the Bay from Louisiana, believes the relaxed restrictions are no surprise after a year into the pandemic. Many said with vaccines rolling out and COVID-19 case numbers lowering, it makes sense to them.
“It’s not unusual to go into any one of these restaurants and not see a full of people and most aren’t wearing masks anyway,” Ladner said.
“I think the amount of people who already had it and have the antibodies and the amount of people that are getting the vaccine, I think the combination of the two, I think it’s time to start moving,” said Michael Brandner, visiting from Louisiana.
Brandner said he has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and is hopeful things are slowly going back to normal.
“Two years without Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Football being locked down. All the things we enjoy and consider a part of our lives is now going to become a part of our life again and we’re going to be able to enjoy it.” Brandner said.
Watch “Mississippi Tested: The COVID Fight Now and in the Future” Thursday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. on WLOX CBS