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Gov. Reeves ends previous COVID-19 restrictions, keeps school mask mandate

More than 14 months after COVID-19 reached Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves has rolled back all COVID-related restrictions except one.

Reeves’ new executive order, issued Friday, essentially returns the state to the way things were before the pandemic. The only remaining statewide order that remains in place is the requirement that masks be worn inside school buildings through the end of the 2020-2021 academic school year.

Seating caps for collegiate sporting events and K-12 extracurricular activities are being lifted by the new order, which is set to go into effect at 5 p.m. today. On Twitter, Reeves cited upcoming graduation ceremonies as a motivator for removing capacity restrictions.

In the order, Reeves does recommend that Mississippians continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines on COVID-19 safety, which include wearing a mask in all public spaces, social distancing and hand-washing.

Reeves repealed most COVID-related restrictions in early March. Reeves has drawn criticism from both sides of the political spectrum over his handling of COVID-19 in Mississippi, with some decrying any COVID-related executive order as “tyrannical” and others panning his patchwork approach to mask mandates.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Friday that 949,833 people in Mississippi — about 32% of the state’s population — have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Just over 788,000 people have received both doses since the state began distributing vaccines in December. Thousands of vaccination appointments are currently available on the MSDH vaccine scheduler. All Mississippians ages 16 and up are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.