JONESTOWN—Gov. Tate Reeves has lifted restrictions allowing more businesses to open throughout the state of Mississippi, but with the amount of coronavirus cases in Jonestown, the town will still close at 8 p.m. daily.
Mayor Kenny Lester made the announcement during the city council meeting Monday.
“Until 8 o’clock, they can open all they want to,” said Lester of businesses in Jonestown. “The reason why they’re still remaining closed at 8 o’clock is our numbers in Jonestown are increasing rapidly every day.”
Lester said when Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center, Inc. tested 129 individuals for the coronavirus in Jonestown, seven of those test results came back positive.
“Since then, we probably have about 25 people positive here in town,” Lester said. “That’s too many for a population under 1,700.”
Lester acknowledged some local residents would take issue with clubs and stores closing early.
“My job is not to make people happy about going to the club,” Lester said.
“Some people say, ‘I can’t go to the store. The store closed.’ The store closed at 8. If you need something, go at 7:30. It’s simple. If you open until 10, they’ll say we need to stay open until 12. We’re not going to ever satisfy everybody.”
Lester said, by closing Jonestown at 8 p.m., he will be able to say he did his best to keep the community as safe as possible. He added for two months he has been telling people to use hand sanitizer and not to be in social clubs.
“Most of the ones we were talking about test positive,” Lester said. “With that, the town of Jonestown will remain closed at 8 p.m. until further notice.”
Alderman Unta Wiley disagreed with Lester’s decision to close the town at 8 p.m.
“I just think it should open back up,” Wiley said. “They’re going to be out after 9, after 10 still. Just open back up.”
Lester said he could not force people to go home, but he was doing his part to make sure everyone was safe.
Wiley again stressed citizens will continue to stay out late.
“That’s why I say just go ahead and open it up,” he said.
“The thing is if I open it up, everyone else (will come here),” replied Lester.
Wiley said businesses in all the other communities are once again opening with regular hours.
“That’s alright,” replied Lester. “Everyone from Jonestown can go to Lula. They can go to Clarksdale. They can go anywhere they want for the most part. I don’t care where they go in Clarksdale. The thing is, I don’t want Lula and Clarksdale to come over here.”
Lester said two individuals from Jonestown are in the hospital with the coronavirus. He said one person is holding on and the other is not doing well. He added he does not want the numbers to increase in Jonestown.
“We are so close-knit as a community,” Lester said.
As soon as Jonestown opens up, Lester said everyone will go party and the majority of the town would have to be quarantined.
“We’re going to do all we can do to keep them safe,” Lester said. “That’s all we can do.”
Lester said he would look at future coronavirus test results to determine when Jonestown could operate with regular hours once again.