The governor of Mississippi has issued an executive order which effectively overrode several local officials’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic by declaring a slew of businesses including gun shops, department stores and rideshare apps as “essential.”

Gov. Tate Reeves‘ (R) order says that “any order, rule, regulation or action by any governing body, agency or political subdivision of the state that imposes any additional freedom of movement or social distancing limitations on Essential Business or Operation, restricts scope of services or hours of operation of any Essential Business or Operation, or which will or might in any way conflict with or impede the purpose of this Executive Order is suspended and unenforceable during this COVID-19 State of Emergency.”


While discouraging its residents from gathering in groups of 10 or more people, the order stated “this does not apply” to grocery stores, airports and workplaces.


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Reeves has promoted social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, and urged businesses to “allow every worker that can to work from home” in a Facebook post. In his order, businesses are encouraged to let their employees work from home “to the extent feasible,” but made significant exceptions for companies necessary for public health and the economy.

The order also permits restaurants to provide dine-in meals, as long as they follow social distancing protocol. This allowance directly contradicts advice from the Mississippi State Department of Health, which recommended on Friday that all restaurants pause dine-in services.

As of Monday, Mississippi has had 847 reported cases and 16 deaths.

Coronavirus cases have continued to rise all over the U.S., and 30 states have issued “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders which have shut down nearly all businesses except for grocery stores, pharmacies and medical facilities.

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