HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – On Thursday, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker signed an executive order that provides guidance to retail businesses within city limits in regards to in-house capacity and masks.
The decision follows Governor Tate Reeves’ move to reopen some retail stores last week.
“As that happened, we also understand that if we’re going to start putting people together, there also has to be some trade-offs in how we try to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19. So with that, we required that masks for people who are going into retail establishments,” explained Barker.
The mask decision comes with mixed feelings from the public. Some are for it, and others are not excited about the new rules in the city.
“I shouldn’t be forced to wear the mask. But if I am going to be forced to wear the mask, then every business should open back up. I mean if, what’s the purpose of the mask if we’re not going to open stuff back up,” said Lance McNease.
“If it’s for the well being of everybody, then you know, just push through it. Nobody likes wearing a mask. It’s not fun. It’s not easy to breathe. But I mean everybody is going to go through it. If you’re working or just being out, it’s just something to be proactive to help the community to get over COVID-19,” said Laci Arnau.
Barker said he understands the concerns, but he believes this is the best way forward.
“As we start to bring people back together, there has to be ways we can mitigate the risk of community transmission. And to try and maintain the progress that we’ve made on this, we have to also understand that this is going to be with us for quite a while. So if we want to some semblance of normal economic activity, each of us doing our part, wearing a mask, is part of the equation,” stated Barker.
His executive order expires on Sunday, May 31.