The Queen City is back under curfew.
During a special meeting of the City Council of Greenville on Friday, the council voted to suspend the use and rental of city park pavilions and reenact the city curfew of midnight to 5 a.m. until further notice.
The suspension includes pavilions located at city parks Archer, Frisbee, Hardy, Maude, Rounds and Shelby.
The city-wide face mask mandate remains in effect until further order of the council as well. The decision comes just three days after a regular meeting of the city council in which a motion was voted upon to lift the city curfew and allow the use of park pavilions.
However, with the Labor Day holiday looming, the council reached a general consensus to reexamine their decision and consider a discussion regarding hours of operation for dance halls, bars, taverns, etc., during COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
The council also discussed the rental of pavilions as the Labor Day holiday approaches and concerns of citizens failing to comply with CDC guidelines and state mandates as it pertains to the city’s parks.
Members of the council expressed concern about “behavior” observed over the last couple of days indicating little regard for CDC guidelines and state and local mandates in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Ward 6 Councilman James Wilson said recent actions by some show people are not being serious about it (COVID-19 pandemic). “
So, we have to take a stand to protect the citizens,” he said.
Mayor Errick Simmons alluded to a statement made by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, in which he said, “We know from prior experience that when we get into the holiday weekend, there’s a tendency for people to be careless somewhat with regard to public health measures.”
Simmons also highlighted a statement from the state’s health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. Dobbs said in his statement that he implores Mississippians to take special precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as Mississippi still has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the U.S.; and even modest-sized gatherings can greatly accelerate the transmission of the virus.
“As we approach the labor day holiday we shouldn’t let our guards down because as we begin to let our guards down, we see those increases in cases. We want folks to have a safe and healthy Labor Day holiday, but we have to make sure that we recognize that COVID-19 is real and still exists in our community and across the county,” Simmons said. “Over the last two days we have seen incidents get out of hand and because of that, this council wanted to call this special meeting to address not only the city curfew, but also operation of dance halls, bars taverns, etc., during COVID-19 conditions.”
Ward 2 Councilwoman Lois Hawkins agreed the curfew should be reactivated given recent events reported to she and other council members.
Wilson made the motion to approve reactivating the city-wide curfew of midnight to 5 a.m.and it was unanimously agreed upon by the council.
In regards to city parks, Simmons’ made the recommendation to suspend the use and rental of pavilions in light of large gatherings that have been taking place with no adherence to CDC guidelines.
“I think we need to go ahead and shut down those park pavilions at this time until we get more guidance from the state,” he said to the council.
Ward 1 Councilman Al Brock wanted to make sure the council was not being contradictory, noting that Governor Tate Reeves’ executive order encouraged outdoor activity.
Simmons clarified his recommendation by adding,“The parks are open with walking trails — the Hardy Park and the Levee walking trails are open.”
However the use of park equipment is prohibited and the playgrounds remain closed. Banks reiterated to the council that the problem is not citizens going outdoors or on the walking trails, but the high volume of congregating in park pavilions.
“The police have come and ran a lot of people away, but the issue is a large number of people congregating at the pavilions,” she explained.
Simmons acknowledged the current situation is something the city and council have never dealt with and there is no “roadmap.”
“We’re feeling our way and we’re trying to trust each other to do the right thing and protect each other as well...when we see things getting out of hand, we have to respond,” he said.