CIty board considering tighter resolution to address PD’s concerns

Published 11:39 am Friday, March 27, 2020

At the 10 a.m. update meeting, Police Chief Jimmy McCloud told the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen that his officers need some help discerning how to enforce the resolution passed last week  that was designed to limit the number of patrons allowed in local businesses in response to an ever-spreading coronavirus threat.

The resolution, or rather the enforcement of the resolution, is presenting problems the city board did not intend. Restaurants have been abiding by the “no dine-in” portion of the measure, and have seen their regular business plummet.

While restaurants have been reduced to curb-side service, some food vendors have essentially been able to continue their service as usual. In particular, convenience stores that sell hot food and plates are not being hampered by the resolution at all. Not only is this unfair to other restaurants, it is violating the spirit of the resolution, which is keeping people away from one another until the worse of the pandemic has passed.

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Discussed in the meeting was Subway sandwich shop and the stores that sell plates. Technically, those places are only selling take-out orders, but customers are still lingering several minutes around others while waiting for their orders to be prepared and paying at the register.

The Subway located at the Love’s Travel Stop at the North Batesville exit has a different approach, and will have workers take orders outside the door and bring the sandwich back and take payment there. Also at Love’s, which has a hot dog bar and pre-made sandwiches, the staff will get those items and bring them to the register for payment so customers aren’t around other food while preparing their own.

Because gas stations and convenience stores are listed as essential businesses that could remain open even if a full travel ban were instituted, and McCloud said he needs some clarification about which businesses can serve their food and how they may do it.

After about 20 minutes of discussion the Mayor halted the meeting and instructed each aldermen to take a break and review the resolution passed Saturday, decide whether to they want to change or strengthen the resolution, and be prepared to vote when he reconvenes the board for another meeting at 1 p.m. today.

The ideas floated at this morning’s meeting ranged from changing nothing to closing all non-essential businesses and strictly controlling all prepared food service, essentially the same mandate the Board of Supervisors attempted to put into effect last Saturday, March 21.

McCloud said it was in a meeting with Emergency Operations Director Daniel Cole and others before the City’s meeting at 10 a.m. that he was convinced the city has reached the point that makes tighter control of pubic traffic in businesses and other gathering places necessary.

According to figures from the Mississippi State Department of Health this morning, the state now has 579 confirmed Covid-19 tests, from 94 yesterday.

There have been seven deaths in Mississippi as of Thursday night.

There are still just two presumed positive cases in Panola County. Also, Panola Medical center had performed 50 sample collections as of Thursday night and has received 12 negative results.

The hospital is waiting for the other 38 results, and several are expected to be received today or Saturday.