Restaurants can serve dine-in customers again starting Thursday

By FROM STAFF REPORTS,

Mississippi restaurants will be able to open their doors to dine-in customers on Thursday, under strict guidelines.

Gov. Tate Reeves amended the Safer at Home executive order on Monday to allow restaurants to seat indoor and outdoor guests again.

Operators must keep their customer occupancy below 50 percent capacity, among other guidelines that include employees wearing masks, employees and customers being screened upon entry to the establishment and maintaining proper distancing.

"I don’t want to wait if there are steps that we believe we can safely take now to ease the burden on Mississippians fighting this virus,” Reeves said. “There are thousands around the state that are set to close their doors for good. They cannot hold on much longer. I hope that this will not only be some much-needed relief for those restaurant employees but also provide for some joy for the people of Mississippi.”

Reeves’ amendment also allows state parts to reopen.

Here are some of the guidelines for restaurants and parks beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

The order will be in effect until 8 a.m. next Monday (May 11) when the Safer at Home order is expected to expire in its entirety. 

RESTAURANTS:

• Before in-house dining can resume, the entire restaurant and bar must be deep-cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized top to bottom.

• All restaurants and bars are expected to take every step necessary to implement the regulations, orders, and guidance from the Mississippi State Department of Health and CDC to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

• All employees will be screened daily at the beginning of their shifts, including asking whether they have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days and have they had a fever in the last 48 hours.

• Cloth masks must be provided to all employees who come in direct contact with customers. Employees are required to wear that mask throughout their shift.

• All employees must be provided training on how to limit the spread of COVID-19.

• No more than 50% seating capacity in both indoor and outdoor dining areas, and floor plans must be updated to ensure at least 6 feet between each group. Party sizes will be limited to no more than 6 people per table.

• Bars and bar areas that do no offer food services are to remain closed.

• Minimizing person-to-person contact through technology, like mobile or online reservations and contact-less payment, is encouraged.

• Customers will be screened upon entry. Restaurants and bars must post signage at each entrance stating no customer with a fever or COVID-19 symptoms are allowed in.

• Cafeteria-style buffets and food stations that are manned by restaurant staff are allowed with appropriate barriers to limit contact. Self-service buffets, food stations, and drink stations are prohibited.

• All restaurants and bars must place hand sanitizer at all entrances, hostess stations, in/near bathrooms, and at cashier stations.

OUTDOOR RECREATION:

• Gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people for indoor activities and a maximum of 20 people for outside activities.

• Parks can open to the public from 9:00AM - 7:00PM for outdoor recreation under guidance from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and local authorities, with people following social distancing guidelines such as 6 feet separation. Outdoor recreation activities, such as swimming, are also allowed within those same hours.

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