As we continue to navigate through an unprecedented challenge in our world with the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Southaven is continuously assessing new and ever-changing information by the minute. Along with my team of department heads and Board of Aldermen, I have been watching and studying this matter long before it reached the United States, Mississippi, and our city. We’ve followed, promoted, and furthermore pleaded with all to heed the recommendations of President Trump, Governor Reeves, the CDC, MSDH, and other public health experts in minimizing the risk of spread of this virus. We’ve urged our citizens not to panic, but to take this disease extremely seriously and take actions accordingly. This is not a perfect science, but instead a strategy of statistics to minimize the risk of a pandemic over-run of our health care facilities. Specifically, one of the key strategies in fighting this threat is social distancing by limiting mass gatherings of people. While so many of our citizens and businesses have risen to the occasion like we knew they would, our ongoing assessments have shown that too many continue to gather, creating a serious threat to the health and safety of our citizens and people, in general. Considering this as well as the very recent additional risk added by the influx of gatherings in our city following the City of Memphis mandates, we must take the following action:
Effective TODAY, MARCH 22, 2020 at 5:00 PM with approved ordinance from our Board of Aldermen, I order and will execute the following mandatory restrictions in our city until further notice:
All restaurant dining rooms must close and limit service to drive-through, delivery, take-out, or curbside options.
All bars, gyms, theaters, salons, and recreational or amusement facilities must close.
All businesses, clubs, organizations, places of worship, or other gatherings within the City’s boundaries shall adhere to the guidelines of the CDC to limit crowds or gatherings to no more than 10 people, with the exclusion of essential services including, but not limited to, hospitals, nursing homes, post office, distribution centers, manufacturers and distributors of household goods and items for the supply chain, manufacturers and distributors of products essential for the supply chain of vital supplies, health clinics, drug stores, pharmacies, banks, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, day cares, retail stores over 4,000 square feet, and hardware stores.
In addition, I have also declared a Civil Emergency for our city to control the spread of this disease. This, in no way, should be misconstrued as a need for panic, but is simply a maneuver to allow us leniency with certain laws which will further allow us to serve our citizens better and also recover unusual costs associated with these circumstances.
For those that question why we’ve not taken more drastic measures such as a “Shelter-in-Place” or other similar orders, please understand that although it sounds like a noble move and is possible that circumstances could require this, cities do not have the manpower and other resources to enforce this. This decision is more effectively made by the state or federal government with much-needed resource allocations to support it. Neither have done this at this time.
Furthermore, it’s important to me that my citizens and our business community know that I understand that all of these decisions have tremendous consequences. We have been cautious and reluctant to execute mandates because we know we face serious economic risks in addition to public health and safety risks and these decisions have serious impacts on the livelihoods of our people in the short term. Even still, we must make difficult decisions with our priorities in line. The health and safety of our people must always be our number-one goal. In weighing all risks, we must also consider that the sooner we control the spread of this virus, the sooner we can return to our way of life and a thriving local economy again.
Stay calm; stay home if you can; stay smart; stay positive; stay safe; and consider the safety and needs of your fellow man.
We will get through this and return to the way of life we love in Southaven!