The city of Tupelo has joined a small list of cities in Mississippi that has enacted some form of restaurant and bar ban in an effort to fight the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Jackson, the largest city in the state, and Oxford have also moved forward with bans.

In Tupelo, Mayor Jason Shelton issued an order limiting restaurants to either 50 percent capacity, or 20 people at one time, whichever is less. Beyond that, restaurants can only offer drive-thru, curbside, or delivery service. All recreational entertainment facilities must also close. 

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution that requires restaurants and bars to shut down common dining facilities. 

The resolution also gave the mayor the power to close all liquor stores and to order a general curfew as deemed necessary. The curfew could only last up to five days. The mayor also was given the power to issue additional orders that “are necessary for the protection of life and liberty.”

And last night, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba issued an order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people and closing bars and restaurants in the state’s capital city.

Across the country, the number of states that have enacted statewide bans continues to grow. Today, Alabama became one of the latest states with such a ban. Louisiana, which has more confirmed coronavirus cases than all but six states as of Thursday night, has had a ban since early this week. 

While Gov. Tate Reeves said he was hesitant about pushing for a ban two days ago, Shelton said he would like to see statewide action. Earlier in the week he said, “[you’re] going to create a lot more problems when you have restaurants closing in one city and not the other one.

“I strongly feel this is an issue the Mississippi State Department of Health should be addressing on a uniform statewide basis,” Shelton added Thursday. “I certainly want to be as polite as possible and as deferential as possible. I’m not exactly sure why there hasn’t been any action yet.”