Some Mississippi barbers ready to work Monday as virus rules loosen

Published 9:57 pm Sunday, May 10, 2020

Some Mississippians will be able to take that inch of hair off beginning Monday thanks to a further rollback of coronavirus restrictions, but the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the state even as some protest that Gov. Tate Reeves hasn’t done enough to loosen up.

The Republican Reeves says hair salons and barbershops can reopen Monday as long as chairs are at least 6 feet apart, employees and customers wear face masks, and everyone is screened for virus symptoms. Customers are supposed to wait outside until stylists are ready for them.

Gyms can reopen Monday too at 30% capacity, operating under restrictions.

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The moves come as Mississippi officials on Sunday reported nine new deaths and 123 new cases, pushing the total number of cases above 9,500 and the total number of deaths to at least 430.

Michelle Johnson of Fountain of Love hair salon in Southaven told WREG-TV she’s eager to open in part because employees need money.

“They’ve been living off their savings and that can only go on for so long,” Johnson said.
She said her employees have been at a competitive disadvantage because salons in nearby Tennessee opened last week.

Others say they will stay closed for a while longer,
“We just feel that it’s really just too soon,” barber Rickey Boggan in Meridian told WTOK-TV. “You’re dealing with more people and with more people, more risks are associated.”

Some courts will also reopen Monday, although defendants in Columbus are being asked to sign in outside and wait in their vehicles for a phone call with further instructions.

The city of Oxford is allowing restaurants to reopen their dining rooms on Monday after a delay behind the statewide reopening.

West Point says shoppers and store employees must start wearing masks beginning Monday, while a similar requirement was lifted in Starkville.

Reeves’ “Safer at Home” order now extends until May 25. He has said he might loosen more restrictions between now and then, a move that could be welcomed by thousands of casino employees statewide.

In Tunica County, some local business people say they fear that Mississippi’s delay in reopening casinos behind Arkansas could accelerate a shift in gambling dollars to a casino in West Memphis, Arkansas.

“It’s great for Arkansas, but it’s bad for Mississippi,” Tunica auction house owner Howard Mea told WHBQ-TV. “They are getting a jump on us, and we are sitting down here wondering where and when and how and for the governor’s office to get us back up.”

Reeves’ moves are not enough for some, though. The Sun Herald reports that about 150 people attended a protest Saturday in Biloxi to protest restrictions, although about 50 of them participated from a distance.

They heard from Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, two Republicans who suggested that restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus were tyrannical violations of Americans’ rights.

“We will not accept our rights being trampled on any longer,” Dobson said.

GOP state Sen. Chris McDaniel said America was founded by revolutionaries, and told the crowd they shouldn’t be ashamed of that legacy.

“They didn’t let the fear of dying stop them from living,” McDaniel said. “You and you alone are ultimately responsible for your safety.”

The audience cheered when McDaniel said, “We’ll take our chances because we’d rather be free.”

E. Brian Rose, president of the Jackson County Republican Club, and Dan Carr, who heads the Harrison County Republican Club, organized the event. When asked why, Rose said, “Because somebody told me I couldn’t.”