McComb’s city board plans to stiffen its mask and social distancing mandates and add a curfew after the police chief asked for more clarity on the order Tuesday.

Mayor Quordiniah Lockley, with advice from Police Chief Garland Ward, suggested the city board enact a curfew to help the police tighten restrictions on nightclubs that are not following the social distancing and mask mandates in place.

Selectman Devante Johnson asked how a curfew would help stop the spread of the virus, noting that he did not believe it was the city’s right to tell people when they could and could not leave their house.

Lockley said that the curfew would give police more leeway in shutting down clubs that are not complying. He noted that some nightclubs open around 10 or 11 p.m., and a curfew at 11 would effectively stop those clubs from holding gatherings without masks and social distancing.

Johnson was still not receptive to the idea, but Ward noted he had to shut down multiple businesses that refused to follow the order.

Johnson floated the idea of going solely with Gov. Tate Reeves’ executive order, which includes Pike County.

Selectman Shawn Williams said he was not in favor of defaulting to Reeves’ order, noting that the city will need an order in place once Reeves lifts his.

“I think it is the responsibility of this board to govern our city and make sure we are making the right decisions for our city, so whatever we have got to do to make it even across the board. ... I think we need to do it,” he said. “We need to stick to it, and it needs to be strictly enforced. This is a time not to shy away from this. It is time to get aggressive because people are not listening, and people are still getting sick and dying.”

Ward said he wants consistency, adding that he does not believe it is fair to shut down some businesses and gatherings and not others.

“My suggestion is that if you can’t do all, don’t do any. If you are going to allow some, you have got to allow all,” he said. “Leave no room for error, and if we are going to do it, we need to do the curfew like the mayor said because we don’t need to put down all of that wording.” 

Johnson said something needed to be done about the original order because it “fell flat on its face.”

Selectman Donovan Hill said he believed it would be best to raise the fine for noncompliance and target business owners who are not following the rules.

“I think if we focus on the people that are holding the parties, we will get what we are looking for,” Hill said. “Write the person who is throwing the party up and be done with it. At the end of the day, despite what rule or ordinance we write, if the people don’t care enough about themselves, it will mean nothing.”

Johnson said the city needs to be consistent with its order, noting that the city has employees that aren’t wearing masks, noting that enforcement needs to start “in house.” The board agreed.

The board decided to take the issue up in the next board meeting by drafting a new order following the template of the governors’ order and raising the fine.

Selectman Ronnie Brock asked board attorney Angela Cockerham, who attended by phone, to continue the discussion and make changes to the order until the board meeting.

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