The Grenada City Council voted 4-3 earlier this week to extend the citywide mask ordinance until after the Fourth of July holiday, however, the extension was not well received by some citizens in the audience.
Three people stormed out of Monday evening’s regularly scheduled meeting after a vote was made to extend the ordinance for at least another two weeks. The motion came from Ward 3 City Councilman Lewis Johnson, who said that after speaking with one local medical official, he believed extending the mask ordinance through at least the July Fourth holiday was a good option as vaccinations continue.
Ward 1 Councilman Warren Cox seconded the motion, which passed after receiving “yes” votes from Ward 2 Councilman Pete Wilson and Ward 5 Councilman Eric Harris. Ward 4 Councilman Michael Smith, Ward 6 Councilman Larry Vance and Ward 7 Councilman Ronnie Merriman voted against the extension.
“When we put the mask ordinance in place, Dr. (Joseph) Messina and other medical officials asked us to,” Johnson said. “I recently spoke with Dr. Messina and he requested that we continue this until after July 4.”
In July 2020, after a rapid climb in positive COVID-19 cases in Grenada County lead hospital and local medical officials to begin urging the public to wear masks, they later asked the city council to implement a mask ordinance.
In March, Gov. Tate Reeves lifted the statewide mask mandate, but allowed cities to continue local restrictions, keeping mandates effective if they chose. Grenada voted to keep its ordinance in place.
“By extending it after July 4, there’s a possibility of more people getting vaccinated,” Johnson said. “It’s just too early to make this move.”
Smith said his decision to vote against extending the ordinance came directly from the people in his ward and also business owners in town.
“As far as my constituents go, both black and white have expressed to me that it’s time to loosen up with the masks,” Smith said.
Smith said one of the provisions that he was asked to seek was the city recommending mask wearing, but not requiring them.
“This is what some of the businesses are asking – that masks are simply recommended,” Smith added. “It’s just time to ease up a bit. I’m out all of the time and this is what I’m hearing.”
After the 4-3 vote passed, one man attending the meeting was unhappy with the outcome and stormed out the City Hall speaking loudly, forcing Mayor Billy Collins to hit his gavel three times for order. Two others followed him in dismay.
“No one’s wearing them anyway,” the man shouted. “I’m not going to wear mine either.”