Mississippi Joins Texas in Allowing Full Capacity Concerts, Lifting Mask Mandates
As of Wednesday (March 3), Mississippi has joined Texas in lifting all coronavirus-related mask mandates and allowing businesses in those states to reopen fully. That also means live concerts and festivals can return at 100-percent capacity in Mississippi and Texas this month.
But is it too soon? While COVID-19 case numbers have dropped across the U.S. and vaccinations are ramping up, the pandemic is not yet over. And local officials and public health experts in both states have urged residents to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing.
Still, that didn't stop Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves from issuing a proclamation this week that reopens his jurisdiction with no government-imposed virus restrictions. The message was similar to that of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's directive allowing the Lone Star state to reopen.
"Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules," Reeves announced on Tuesday. "Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed."
At a news conference that day, per The New York Times, Reeves added, "If businesses or individuals decide to take additional precautions, they are absolutely within their rights. In fact, it may be smart. But we are not going to continue to use the heavy hand of government when it is no longer justified by the reality we see around us."
At the same news conference, Mississippi's own state health officer, Thomas Dobbs, offered a word of discretion that appeared to temper Reeves' eagerness to return the state to normal.
"Do stuff outdoors, don't group together indoors with a lot of folks," Dobbs advised. "There's no way in heck I would go sit in a crowded bar right now, indoors or out really. Please exercise caution."
While case numbers across the country have indeed dropped from their holiday peak, that decrease may have stalled in recent days, as CNBC reported. Further, new variants of COVID-19 circulating throughout the U.S. have many wondering if a new surge in infections will come.
Health experts and concert promoters had previously surmised that full-capacity concerts likely wouldn't return until Fall 2021 or 2022.