Mississippi takes first step to reopen restaurants, but some can’t staff in time

Coronavirus

RIDGELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – This has been the day many restaurant owners and employees have been waiting for since 8:00 a.m. Governor Tate Reeves has allowed their businesses to open up with certain capacity limits as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

For the first time in two months those in Mississippi who wanted to go out for dining services, dinner is served.

In Ridgeland, at Tico Steakhouse the grills were fired back up and customers were ready to chow down.

“I know that New York Strip and the Potatoes are going to be better than ever,” Sarah Lowery told us before going in. “And I know they’ve been anxious to feed us and I cannot wait.”

“They have assured us that the wait staff and everybody would be overly protective,” regular Wade Quin said. He added, “which I feel like they are.”

To stay on top of social distancing guidelines owner Tico Hoffman spaced out his tables and required every staff member to wear masks and take temperatures at the door.

“We did a deep cleaning and sanitized everything,” Hoffman said. “Linen company came in and took all the old linens off so we could get fresh linens.”

“At 50% capacity, Tico can fit up to 90 customers at once in his building as he works to get his place back on its feet. Meanwhile, at the Pearl Pizza Inn, it’s a sea of empty tables.

“Not many people wanting to come in and work right now with the COVID-19,” General Manager Jennifer Yarborough Shaw explained. “It leaves just a few people that are heard and we can’t compare with the hefty crowd.”

Since shutting down, Pizza Inn went from 20 full-time staff members to just half a dozen working one whole day. They called Reeves four day timeframe since he signed the new executive order this week impossible to meet.

“Our truck has not been able to arrive on time so that puts us behind even more with our inventory,” Shaw continued. “I’m hoping that everything will slowly fall back into place.”

Under executive order 1478, any restaurant reopening to dine-in services must make employees wear PPE equipment based on their duties with customers and safe food handling. But next to a blazing oven, wearing a mask can be difficult.

“You’re standing by an oven that produces about 500 degrees and that’s on each side,” Pizza Inn Co-Manager Jacqueline Yarborough stated. “And it’s not comfortable trying to breathe and has heat on you at the same time.”

Under the current executive order, only certain parts of Mississippi are allowed to open up to 50% in capacity for dine-in services. If County Supervisors or Mayors see their communities as hot spots they can take their guidelines further.

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