Hattiesburg's mayor issues guidelines for retail in executive order

(The following is a press release from the city of Hattiesburg.)

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Thursday, April 30, Mayor Toby Barker issued Executive Order 2020-5 to provide guidance to retail businesses regarding in-house capacity and masks.

“As we begin taking steps to reopen parts of Hattiesburg’s economy, we do so with a dual focus of prioritizing public health while giving the private sector space to operate creatively,” said Barker. “We have been able to hold down infection rates by engaging in social distancing and abiding by shelter-in-place orders. Now that we are beginning to get back out and have more frequent touchpoints with one another, it is important that we find ways to reduce the risk of community transmission. Wearing masks is a reasonable and responsible path forward. COVID-19 will continue to be a threat to our community for the foreseeable future. We must continue to protect vulnerable populations and prevent the overrun of our health care system, all while adjusting to our new normal.”

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 1 and expires at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 31 – unless modified or rescinded by Barker. It includes the following:

Non-essential retail stores (i.e. electronics stores, clothing stores, tobacco stores, florists, furniture stores, bookstores, jewelry stores) shall implement systems to limit access to a certain number of customers at one time in the store. This limit shall correspond to the square footage in their sales area. • Sales areas between 0-5,000 sq. ft. – 10 or fewer customers • Sales areas between 5,001 and 10,000 sq. ft. – 20 or fewer customers • Sales areas between 10,001 sq. ft. and 15,000 sq. ft. – 30 or fewer customers • Sales areas between 15,001 sq. ft and 20,000 sq. ft – 40 or fewer customers • Sales areas above 20,000 sq. ft. – 50 or fewer customers

The order also includes provisions for social distancing measures to be taken in regards to lines, checkout areas and customer clustering.

In addition to in-store capacity allowances, the order addresses masks for customers. It states: • All employees of essential businesses and all employees of nonessential businesses shall wear a mask when working in or moving about the same workspace as other employees or working in or moving about the same room as the public. • All employees of parcel, food or grocery delivery services (including, but not limited to FedEx, UPS, DoorDash, Uber Eats, WalMart Grocery Delivery, InstaCart, Waitr,) shall wear a mask when making deliveries to a home or business. • All customers age 6 or over shall wear a mask while inside an essential or nonessential retail establishment. • For purposes of this executive order, “mask” shall be defined as any face covering; including, but not limited to, fabric masks, homemade linen or cloth masks, household dust masks, handkerchief, scarf, surgical mask, KN95 mask or N95 mask. • The above order does not obligate an employer to purchase a certain type of mask for employees or the public. • Nothing in this order shall prevent a business from implementing a more restrictive policy in terms of masks or others measures to contain and prevent transmission of COVID-19. • This order shall not apply to customers who have trouble breathing or are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance; anyone with a disability; or anyone with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask is not recommended by their healthcare professional. • Retail establishments are encouraged to post notice of the requirement for customers to wear masks at each public entrance of the store and to provide reasonable oversight of their customers to ensure compliance. • The above rule shall not apply to “essential healthcare operations” as defined in Governor Reeves’ Executive Order 1463. These operations shall continue with protocols regarding personal protective equipment that adhere to CDC guidelines, medical best practices and institutional policy.

This executive order supersedes and amends prior orders issued by the city (2020-1, 2020-2, 2020-3 and 2020-4). Barbershops, salons, spas, nail salons, tattoo shops, massage parlors, restaurants, bars, entertainment, gatherings, funerals and fitness centers all remain closed per Reeves’ orders (1463, 1466, 1473 and/or 1477).

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