While masks remain mandatory through the end of September, a decrease in the weekly seven-day average of new coronavirus cases prompted Gov. Tate Reeves to loosen other restrictions.

Changes to Reeves’ Safe Return executive order will now allow retail businesses, restaurants, gyms and seated dinners at reception halls and conference centers to increase capacity limits from 50 to 75 percent, he announced Monday morning during a press conference.

The maximum size of individual parties allowed in restaurants increased from six to 10. Gyms may now be open 24 hours a day.

Limitations for group gatherings when social distancing is not possible are now 10 people indoors and 50 outdoors. When social distancing is possible, group gatherings may be a maximum of 20 indoors and 100 outdoors.

“We have had a tremendous move towards progress in our state since we reached our peak on June 26,” Reeves said.

At that time, the moving average was 1,381 new coronavirus cases per day.

“Today that number is approximately 412, so over a 65 percent decline in our seven-day average,” Reeves said.

That decline brings Mississippi out of the red zone, meaning the number of new cases in the past week was less than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents.

Nine new COVID-19 fatalities were reported in Mississippi, but Reeves pointed out that all nine were from older records and therefore may not have occurred as recently as other updated virus numbers.

The changed executive order extends mandatory face masks until at least 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Reeves praised the state’s work to slow the virus but reminded the public to be diligent in wearing masks and social distancing.

“Now is not the time to let your guard down,” he said.

For his decision to increase certain public facilities’ capacities, he cited the seven-day average decline and the fact that 145 was the lowest daily number the state has recently seen.

“I want to point out that we were able to do that at a time when we re-opened K-12 public schools, our community colleges, our institutions of higher learning,” Reeves said.

“Our economy is functioning, but because of the efforts of the people of this state we are making progress not only from an economic standpoint, but also from the standpoint of reducing the amount of virus that is in our local communities.”

Of the 145 new cases in Mississippi reported Monday, one was from Lawrence County and one was from Lincoln County. There were no new cases reported in Pike, Amite, Franklin, Walthall or Wilkinson counties.

There were no new deaths in any of those counties reported Monday or Sunday, but one death was reported in Pike County on Saturday. There have been 48 deaths from COVID-19 in Pike County.

On Saturday, when there were 445 new cases in the state, Pike, Amite, Lincoln, and Wilkinson all reported two new cases each, and Franklin reported one new case.

Lincoln County reported five new cases Sunday, though no other aforementioned counties reported any new cases that day.

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