By Morgan Bridgeman,
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, mayor of Jackson, MS, has recently put into place a new face mask ordinance for Jackson residents. Lumumba announced his new face mask plan at a press conference Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The ordinance went in to affect last Thursday, July 2.
Under the ordinance by Lumumba, Jackson residents are required to wear face masks in all public places whether they are indoors or outdoors. Residents who do not adhere to this new requirement could face a fine/citation of up to $300. Those businesses who do not make it mandatory for customers to wear masks could be shut down.
At the press conference, Lumumba was joined by members of city’s Coronavirus Task Force including the city’s attorney and health officials. These members took the podium to say that this order is a response to the record week of new coronavirus cases that continue to spike as well as the different hospitals in the Jackson area filling to capacity.
“In recent days we have seen a sudden surge in the confirmed cases of coronavirus which has led to this executive order which aims to protect our residents based on the best measures we have available to us,” Lumumba said during the press conference.
The new ordinance calls for face masks to be worn both indoors and outdoors in public places, however face coverings do not need to be worn in some circumstances. These circumstances include: when exercising outside, driving alone or with household members, where wearing a mask would cause health or safety issues, when pumping gas, when in a building that requires surveillance such as a bank, in an office by yourself or where social distancing can be maintained, and when eating or drinking in a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment.
Although the new mask rule is for all Jackson residents, the city is looking toward those businesses who have allowed face masks to be optional especially when social distancing in the establishment is difficult to do. The punishment for these businesses who do not follow the rules could be a 24-hour shutdown by the city or a harsher punishment if they are repeat offenders.
While some business owners and workers may not agree to this new order, some are glad to see the order finally be put in place.
“I firmly believe that the mayor mandating masks to be worn in businesses is a step forward in trying to control and lower the transmission of COVID-19. Whatever measures, small or extensive, that need to be taken to potentially end this pandemic should be done,” said JaiQuavis Dodd, a worker at a local drug store in Jackson.
Customers coming into the city for the city’s businesses have different views on the mayor’s new mask order. One Jackson resident opposed to the mayor’s new rule stated, “Masks can be very uncomfortable and those with masks on are still at risk just like I am when I don’t have a mask on.”
Although there are those opposed, some residents are happy about the decision. “This is the best decision the mayor could’ve made because people don’t understand how serious the situation is. Some people don’t understand extremities of a situation until they are placed in a situation they don’t like,” said Jaylan Brown, a resident of Jackson.
The new masks ordinance has no end date as of now.
Lumumba is also calling surrounding counties such as Madison and Rankin to make similar face masks requirements since many of those residents work in Jackson.