With improving state COVID-19 numbers, Gov. Tate Reeves extended the mask order until the end of September but loosened the reigns on restaurants and retail businesses.

After a long period of being limited to 50 percent capacity, restaurants and retail businesses may now accommodate customers at up to 75 percent capacity. That change to the executive order also affects gyms and seated dinners at reception halls and conference centers.

Restaurant tables still need to be 6 feet apart. Also, party sizes at restaurants, previously limited to six, may now be up to 10. The limitation on hours at gyms is lifted.

The requirement to wear a mask in public is extended through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Reeves announced the tweaks to the state’s mandates in a press briefing Monday morning, a day that saw 145 new COVID-19 cases reported and nine new deaths. The fatalities, notably, are all from vital records investigations and not from new daily reports.

“We have, for the first time in many, many, many months, taken our seven-day average of new cases of COVID below 3,000,” said Reeves. “According to the White House, we are no longer in the red zone of COVID-19.”

The seven-day moving average was about 412 on Monday compared to 1,381 at the state’s peak on June 26.

He praised residents’ efforts with wearing masks and social distancing.

“You have stepped up and you have made a difference,” he said.

However, officials encourage residents to continue to make the effort.

“I simply want everyone to understand that now is not the time to let your guard down,” the governor said. “We want people to continue to wear your masks. We want people to continue to socially distance.”

As of Friday afternoon, Magnolia Regional Health Center had 12 in-patients being treated for COVID-19.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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