The Columbus City Council voted in a special-call meeting Friday to end social distancing and capacity restrictions for businesses and restaurants, though the city’s mask mandate will stay in place.
The council passed a proposal, recommended by City Attorney Jeff Turnage, that “encourages but does not mandate” residents and businesses adhere to six feet of social distancing. It will also keep in place “common sense measures,” such as mandating businesses have frequent hand-washing and sanitation among employees and sending home employees who display COVID-19 symptoms.
Turnage said he thought the proposal would be good for businesses and also protect the city from lawsuits after Gov. Tate Reeves ended a statewide mask mandate, lifted all restrictions on businesses and opened facilities around the state to full capacity on Tuesday.
The proposal passed 3-2, with Ward 1 Councilwoman Ethel Stewart, Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens and Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones voting for the measure, and Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box and Ward 4 Councilman Pierre Beard opposing.
Box and Beard did not give reasons for their opposition in the meeting, but both had previously told The Dispatch they are opposed to the city’s mask mandate remaining in place.
The council also voted to reopen the Trotter Convention Center downtown and the city’s community centers.