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MASKS NO LONGER REQUIRED
WATER VALLEY – An emergency order adopted last July requiring masks or face coverings to be worn in all businesses open to the public has been suspended by the Water Valley Board of Aldermen. The decision came during the monthly meeting on May 4, with Mayor Donald Gray casting the deciding vote in favor of lifting the requirement after aldermen split on the issue, 2-2.
Alderman-at-Large Herbie Rogers motioned for the mandate to be lifted, explaining that businesses and individuals can decide for themselves about wearing masks.
“I said this in the very beginning when we started the mask mandate… Let the people be the judge of what they want to do,” Rogers said.
His motion was seconded by Ward 2 Alderman Fred White.
Ward 1 Alderman Kagan Coughlin and Ward 3 Alderman Cinnamon Foster both voted against lifting the requirement.
“The CDC guidelines still encourage everyone indoors to wear masks. For all those folks who are doing their best to follow the CDC guidelines for food preparation and food sales in the community, I would like the requirement there to still be in place,” Coughlin said about businesses that sell or serve food.
Foster noted the latest statistics in the county show there are 12 Covid cases that are from the UK variant.
“There is a debate of whether or not the current vaccines are actually covering that strain,” Foster said. “It is kind of like getting your flu shot and having the strain mutate, and your shot doesn’t help you anymore.
“Our numbers are still pretty bad here,” Foster added about the county. “I am a little torn about this, I am not about forcing people to do things,” she said before citing the greater good of the community in her decision not to support lifting the mask mandate.
Ward 4 Alderperson Nicole Folson was absent, allowing the mayor to cast the deciding vote.
“I get to break the tie tonight. I will vote to lift the mask requirements, but I would strongly encourage all food processors and at all indoor events for people to wear masks,” Gray said. “That doesn’t mean that if we do see something going to opposite way, we can’t come back and put this requirement back on.”
Aldermen voted unanimously in favor of reopening all city parks for public events after restrictions were placed on the properties last March. Aldermen had already eased limitations prior to Tuesday night’s vote, including the February approval for Magnolia Youth League’s season at Crawford Sports Complex.