Gov. Tate Reeves loosened restrictions on many businesses Monday, but local residents are split on whether or not they feel comfortable to leave their homes. Some say they’re going to hunker down a while longer while others are ready for a return to normal.

While Reeves’ safer at home order has been extended until May 25, virtually all businesses that had been closed during the shutdown over the coronavirus pandemic have reopened.

But not all are convinced it’s safe to resume business as usual.

McComb Walmart toy department employee Cheri Arickson said she’s being careful but is looking forward to putting the outbreak behind her.

“I’m an essential worker, so I have always been out there,” she said. “Generally I would rather stay home on my off days.”

She said businesses should open up.

“I think they should open back up — people need to get on with their lives,” she said.

Arickson said her family is taking special precautions to remain healthy.

“My son works at Sanderson Farms feed mill, he is a supervisor over there. They take special precautions,” she said. “The kids have not been out of the house since March, maybe one time.”

Arickson said her son sprays his shoes down and takes a shower as soon as he comes home from work and that they disinfect their groceries.

Others are more worried about the risks.

Brandi Harvey, of McComb, said people aren’t taking those risks seriously.

“This morning was my first inside visit to Walmart since March and it was scary, not going to lie,” she said. “I have a chronic illness that makes my immune system low at times and I don’t bounce back like healthy people. My kids have not been out of the house since March.”

Harvey said the issue isn’t about personal liberty but community safety,

“I just wish people will take precaution and just think of others during this time. The ill and elderly aren’t taking the healthy people’s rights away, we just want them to be cautious and think of others,” she said.

She said she’s worried about a second wave of the virus hitting Pike County.

“I think another wave is possible if people don’t take this time to stay inside or stay safe if they must go out,” she said.

Rachel Andrews Newman, of Summit, said she’s ready to return to normal and is worried about the economy.

“So many are staying home, but it’s easy to say when you are making more sitting home than if you went to work,” she said. “Our economy is about to crash, and no one seems to care about that. I do value lives, but what happens when people have nowhere to live, no way to feed their children or not able to afford healthcare?

Newman said people need to accept the new normal and make the best of it.

“Get out, and live your life. If you want to have false security with a mask and gloves, by all means, do it. This is never going away,” she said. ... “I say we stop reporting COVID numbers, and let’s live our lives. Life is too short to begin with.”

Donna Fortenberry Tolar, of Tylertown, said she won’t feel comfortable going back out to shops and restaurants until hospital relax restrictions on visitation.

“I will not feel comfortable until hospitals are open to visitors, the numbers go down, and my temperature is not taken from the parking lot prior to my doctor’s appointment,” she said. “I respect the decisions, both Gov. Reeves and President Trump, are making for us. We need to respect them and more importantly, pray for them daily.”

Dehna Martin Maxie, of Bogue Chitto, said she isn’t ready to go out just yet.

“I plan to continue staying home because I don’t believe there has a been a significant change to warrant going out and being more ‘free’ than even a week ago,” she said. “There is still so much to be concerned about, and as someone who has friends and family in the medical field, I know first hand that there is still much cause for concern.”

Brandi Flory Smith, of McComb, said she’s ready to get back to life as normal.

“We only have one life that is short enough as it is in my opinion,” she said. “If not, our economy will plummet. I don’t wear a mask or gloves. I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands when I get home. That’s how we build up immunity.”

Smith said she’s excited to go out to El Dorado Mexican restaurant to eat with her family.

“I look forward to going out,” she said. “The only thing that has changed for us is not being able to go to school or eat out in restaurants until now.”

North Pike Elementary School teacher Mindy Beard said she’s still taking extra precautions but that she’s also worried about the economy.

“I plan to stay home but will make trips for essentials. I will still take precautions when getting out — I’m a teacher so I don’t have to return to work,” she said. “I worry about the economy. But I’m glad some places are able to open back up, which worries me also. I’m worried that with the opening of more places that we’ll see an increase in numbers of infected.”

Beard said she plans on staying home as much as possible through the summer but would like to see school open up in August with daily disinfecting.

Myron Wallace, of Jayess, said he’s sick of the lockdown.

“I’m not only looking forward to it, I’m eager to get my life back,” he said. “I’m sick of drive-thru, muffled masked conversations, and talking through plexiglass.”

He said he wants to do business as usual.

“I want face-to-face customer service, hand shake business deals, open doors, table cloth dining and hear church bells ringing,” he said. “I’m ready.”

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