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Dining rooms reopen with some restrictions

Within Pearl River County restaurants are reopening dining rooms but customers should expect new procedures to be in place.

On May 7, Gov. Tate Reeves’ Executive Order 1477 was amended to allow restaurants and bars to resume indoor dining with some restrictions.

Restaurants and bars should be thoroughly sanitized before reopening to the public according to the order. Employees should be screened at the beginning of their shifts for COVID-19 symptoms and should be wearing appropriate PPE when in contact with customers. The amount of customers allowed to dine-in should be limited to 50% capacity and tables should be spaced six feet apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Hand sanitizer should be placed at points of entry according to the order and both tables and chairs should be thoroughly sanitized after each table leaves.

Chris Speir, owner of Co-Co’s Kitchen in Carriere, said the restaurant did not close completely due to COVID-19 but it was forced to operate through the drive-thru only.

“We are operating our lobby for the first time today,” Speir said on Friday. “We are following all the guidelines.”

There is a sign posted on the door of the restaurant asking customers to use hand sanitizer and refrain from entering if they are sick.

The servers at Co-Co’s Kitchen are also wearing masks.

Charles Bates, owner of Chick N Stick Soulfood, said he lost count of how long the dining area was closed due to COVID-19. He said it had been closed for one or two months.

Bates said being forced to close the dining area didn’t affect business much because the restaurant maintained its take-out and delivery options.

“Things are somewhat back to normal now,” Bates said.

The dine-in area of Chick N Stick Soulfood has since reopened. All of the employees were able to continue working through the dine-in area’s closure and hours were not cut.

Bates also started the Feed the Flock program which provides free meals to members of the community who need them. The program started last Friday and it continuing currently. Though the meals are free, Chick N Stick Soulfood is accepting donations to help offset the cost.

“We wanted to make sure the people in the community were fed,” Bates said.

Bates said he started it because he felt that the program was needed in the community.

“Some people do not have anything in the fridge,” Bates said. “I wanted to be a blessing to people.”

Jacob Foulon, manager of Southern Char, said the dine-in area of the local restaurant was closed for about seven weeks as a result of the pandemic. The dine-in area has since reopened about two weeks ago, but at at half capacity.

The tables in the restaurant have been spread out in accordance with social distancing guidelines and the servers will be wearing masks.

Foulon said business was not affected too badly by the closure. The restaurant maintained a dinner-only take-out service throughout the time the dine-in area was forced to close.

“We stayed pretty busy,” Foulon said. “We didn’t lose anyone.”

Southern Char was not forced to lay off any staff due to the closure.