As of Oct. 21, authorities in Mississippi have reinstated facemask mandates in nine of the state's 82 counties, due to increases in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity; officials had previously lifted the requirement statewide. Under these new guidelines, face masks must be worn in all public areas where social distancing of six feet is not possible. The counties affected by the order are Chickasaw, Claiborne, DeSoto, Forrest, Itawamba, Jackson, Lamar, Lee, and Neshoba. In these counties, indoor and outdoor gatherings should be limited to 10 and 50, respectively.
Other statewide restrictions remain in effect. Gatherings where social distancing measures are not possible are limited to 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, in the remaining 73 counties. Movie theaters can operate at 50-percent capacity, and reception halls and conference centers can allow up to 50-percent their maximum capacity, or 75-percent for seated events only. Restaurants and bars may operate without capacity limits, but maintaining social distancing measures, and must suspend the sale of alcohol between 2300 and 0700 daily. Arenas can open at 25-percent capacity, and school sporting events may allow up to 50-percent their maximum capacity.
Other businesses are allowed to operate with a 75-percent capacity limit, and following enhanced sanitation procedures, ensuring compliance with social distancing guidelines, and implementing the use of protective equipment. Authorities also urge businesses to keep employees working from home whenever possible. Residents 65 years of age or older and those with underlying health conditions are advised to remain home as much as possible.
The use of protective facemasks continues to be required statewide in schools, as well as in close-contact businesses, such as barbershops. Authorities continue to urge residents to wear facemasks in other settings.
County and municipal authorities are allowed to impose stricter restrictions within their jurisdictions if they consider it necessary. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.