Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Tuesday that he is lifting all mask mandate restrictions in the state except for K-12 schools and indoor arenas.
Reeves said he is instead signing an executive order that will recommend, but not require, that people wear masks and follow the health department’s guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
All indoor arenas, including college and university venues, will be required to limit capacity to 50%. Club areas and suites will be limited to 75% capacity.
For K-12 extracurricular activities, outdoor venues will be limited to 50% capacity, and indoor venues will be limited to 25% capacity.
Reeves said there will be no limitations on capacity at outdoor stadiums at colleges and universities.
“Today, I signed what I expect will be one of my last executive orders regarding COVID-19,” Reeves said. “Our hospitalizations have plummeted, and our case numbers have fallen dramatically as well. In fact, our case numbers have fallen to the point where no county meets the original criteria for a mask mandate.
“I am replacing our current orders with recommendations. Everyone should continue to listen to Dr. Dobbs and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID. Their insight is valuable.”
Reeves’ new order will go into effect at 5 p.m. March 3 and remain in place until March 31.
Reeves’ decision comes on the same day that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is lifting a mask mandate for the entire state. Texas will also have no state limits on of the number of diners inside a restaurant.
COVID-19 numbers have taken a significant dip in Mississippi in the last month with both new cases and hospitalizations leveling off with numbers similar to those just prior to the surge in cases after Thanksgiving. The current seven-day average for new cases in the state is 581.86.
“The governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do,” Reeves said.
Reeves’ new order will not keep local or county authorities from adopting rules that are stricter than those contained in his order.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs asks that people continue to exercise caution. He said that Mississippi’s State Department of Health is issuing guidelines to those who are most vulnerable to severe cases of the coronavirus.
“People over 65 or someone over 16 with a chronic condition that puts you at higher risk, we strongly recommend that you don’t attend any social activities or any gatherings at all until you get vaccinated,” Dobbs said. “All these people are eligible to be vaccinated.”