With input from mayors, Pike County supervisors imposed a curfew and other restrictions Thursday aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The curfew is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., with exceptions for people going to work and other legitimate reasons to travel.
“People going to work are exempt. People going to the hospital are exempt, and the sheriff assured me he’s going to be flexible in enforcing this,” said board president Sam Hall.
On Tuesday, supervisors had suggested a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for adults and 9 to 6 for youths under 18, but they modified that Thursday after hearing from mayors of McComb, Magnolia and Summit, who said they will seek to enact the same measure in their own towns.
The proclamation exempts a number of people from the curfew, including first responders, law enforcement officers, public safety workers, medical personnel, utility workers and food suppliers.
The proclamation also “strongly encouraged:”
• No events with gatherings of more than 10 people.
• Closure of restaurants and bars except take-out, pickup, delivery and drive-through.
• People to stay at home except for “essential activities,” which the proclamation lists.
• Social distancing of six feet.
• Closure of non-essential businesses “to the greatest extent reasonably possible.”
Magnolia Mayor Anthony Witherspoon asked if the proclamation would override the governor’s executive order, which he said was more lenient than the county’s measures.
Board attorney Wayne Dowdy said state law gives local officials the authority to declare curfews and other restrictions during public emergencies.
Dowdy noted the proclamation doesn’t include criminal penalties for violators.
“Basically they’re going to patrol, tell people to disperse and go home,” Hall explained.
But Mayor Quordiniah Lockley suggested repeat offenders could be charged with misdemeanors.
Sheriff James Brumfield said in such cases, an officer might write a ticket or even book someone and then release them if necessary.
“It’s going to be a case-by-case basis,” Brumfield said. “Obviously, we’re not looking to arrest people.”
Dowdy said the curfew will last “until the emergency is passed,” and city boards can repeal it when they choose.