Magnolia aldermen enacted a citywide curfew Friday morning in a special called meeting that followed a county-wide curfew enacted Thursday.
The curfew will last from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice.
“This is a necessity here,” Mayor Anthony Witherspoon said in a meeting that was livestreamed on Facebook. “In these efforts to manage the city through the crisis, I’m asking the board to authorize the mayor to issue executive orders if necessary.”
Witherspoon, in meeting with aldermen Joe Cornacchione, Becky Magee and Darrel Pounds via conference call, asked the board to impose the curfew and to allow him to issue executive orders to limit crowd sizes during the pandemic.
“We have to be able to act expeditiously during this crisis,” Witherspoon said.
He said he would notify aldermen before issuing executive orders to allow for discussion.
“This curfew makes exceptions for people going to and from work. Gas stations are exempt and so are people going to and from the hospital,” he said.
The board authorized city attorney Charles Miller, of Miller & Miller Attorneys, to draft all required documents.
Witherspoon said the mayors of the four municipalities in Pike County met with county supervisors earlier this week as they enacted a similar nighttime curfew.
The mayors agreed to pursue similar orders in their own cities to strengthen the countywide curfew.
The town of Osyka also implemented a nighttime curfew Thursday.
“This is so that this city will be able to respond to the swiftly changing environment,” Witherspoon said.
Earlier this week, Witherspoon asked Public Works Director Eric Jones to remove the rims from basketball goals and swings from swing sets at City Central Park after alderman Joe Cornacchione suggested to do so.
Witherspoon said police have broken up several large groups of people using equipment despite the state guidelines to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people.
“I urge citizens to follow health and safety guidelines,” he said. “And I encourage citizens to stay at home as much as possible.”
Witherspoon said the city needs flexibility in their response because of the quick-changing nature of the emergency.
“Stay-at-home recommendations can become mandates. We may be right around the corner — we have to have the ability to act fast and have essential personnel in-place on the ground.”
Gov. Tate Reeves has issued executive orders, but hasn’t gone as far as to require residents to stay at home, although he clarified Thursday that cities can place more stringent restrictions than what he’s suggested.
Witherspoon said city hall will be staffed by only essential personnel and in-person service will be suspended until further notice. Residents may pay fines and bills through a drop-off at the door using check or money order.
Anybody who needs to make arrangements with a city department should call City Hall. The phone lines will be open from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
“The essential functions of the city will go on,” Witherspoon said.
The city will not disconnect water service but residents are still expected to pay their water bills.
“I want to encourage everybody to stay safe, was your hands, use sanitizer and stay inside,” Witherspoon said.