Pine Belt leaders discuss enforcing shelter-in-place order

Coronavirus

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – With the shelter-in-place order in effect in Mississippi, many are wondering how law enforcement will be able to enforce the order.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, along with local law enforcement in the Pine Belt, want neighbors to know that they’re taking the order from Governor Tate Reeves seriously.

“If there is a call about a party, we will go there, we will respond, and we will break that party up. We will give a warning the first time, and if folks do not respond and do not break up, then we will fine them $500 and there’s also a penalty of potentially six months in jail. So, we really hope folks take this seriously because we do have the consequences that come along with breaking that rule,” explained Barker.

The Hattiesburg Police Department said if you’re not an essential business and your doors are still open, you’ll be hearing from them soon.

“Us and the Hattiesburg Fire Department are working together to be sure we stop by, be sure they do close, or also in that process, give them a warning. Tell them, ‘hey, you’re not on this essential business list, if you can, shut down for us,’ and we’ll go from there,” said Ryan Moore, PIO for the Hattiesburg Police Department.

Law enforcement is also concerned about any potential large gatherings.

“There’s a potential for exposure. They can take that from there, take it to their houses and everything else, so again trying to make sure that everyone understands the importance of not congregating, keeping that social distance, not taking this virus and spreading it any more than it’s already been spread,” said Forrest County Sheriff Charlie Sims.

As of right now, the shelter-in-place order is in effect until April 20, 2020, in Mississippi.

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