Business owners try to navigate executive orders aimed at stopping spread of coronavirus


TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – An executive order from Governor Tate Reeves earlier this week came on the heels of orders from cities and towns across the state.

There has been some confusion over the orders from the governor and city leaders, and business owners are trying to keep their doors opened, while abiding by the mandates.

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As Dr Kris Whitehead placed his to go order at Bulldog Burger, he was practicing CDC guidelines we’re all familiar with.

“Making sure to stay at least six feet away from anyone, wash hands for at least twenty seconds, after touching anything, a doorknob, pen, what not, excited to be out, see some sunshine and interact in the community the best I can,” Dr. Whitehead said.

Keeping the public safe and helping stop the spread of the coronavirus has led to executive orders from mayors around the state.

This past weekend, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton issued a shelter in place order, and also closed dining areas inside restaurants.

But on Tuesday, Governor Tate Reeves issued an executive order, banning any gathering of ten or more people. His order also closed all restaurant dining rooms, unless capacity is limited to a maximum of ten people.

“If city of Tupelo tries to enforce something beyond the governor’s order, it’s invalid, we have to follow the governor’s order, I’m optimistic the governor, or his office will issue a clarification,” Mayor Shelton said.

Although Mayor Shelton claimed the governor’s order supercedes the city’s, the owner of the “Eat With Us’ group, which includes Bulldog Burger, said his restaurants will continue offering only curbside, to go or drive through for the time being.

In fact, Bernard Bean said his restaurants closed their dining rooms before Mayor Shelton issued his citywide mandate and business has taken a big hit.

“Our sales are down 75-80% right now, so it is obviously affecting our employees, unfortunately we had to lay some off, vendors, it’s a trickle down effect, all of our suppliers, and service people, it’s a huge impact on the economy,” Bean said.

Bean said while there is confusion over the executive orders, what they mean and which ones to follow, he is hopeful proactive measures by the public, business owners and government leaders will help flatten the curve over the next couple of weeks.

This statement from Gov. Reeves’ spokesperson was received Thursday afternoon:

“Following the principle of state managed, locally executed, Governor Reeves’ latest executive order sets a statewide standard in terms of social distancing and defining essential businesses to slow the spread and protect public health. This establishes statewide parameters that local leaders on the front lines can build on to make decisions that are in the best interest of their communities. The Governor will be issuing a supplement today to clarify that no local precautionary measures are overruled by this executive order and ensure that essential businesses remain open.” – Renae Eze, spokesperson.