Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the measure was not a punitive one, but a cautionary effort to avoid a city shutdown.

In Brief:

  • Individuals over the age of two and able to medically tolerate a face covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public place
  • Individuals found in violation will be served with a citation, carrying a fine not to exceed $300.
  • All commercial entities, businesses, and facilities providing goods and/or services to the public must require all parties (ie. employees, patrons, customers, visitors etc.) to wear a face covering.
  • Businesses found in violation of this order will be immediately shutdown for a 24-hour period.

The City of JXN has issued an executive order that requires facial coverings while in public.  

Violators can be fined up to $300 or be sentenced to up to six months in jail for a violation. Businesses can additionally be shut down for a period of 24-hours under the order.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the measure was not a punitive one, but a cautionary effort to avoid a city shutdown.

“Remember what it felt like when we had to close the city for many days,” Mayor Lumumba said of shutdowns in April, speaking specifically to business owners. “Understand the hardship that was levied on you as an enterprise and your employees and residents across the city. We are trying to avoid taking that very strong stance and utilize the tools at our disposal to protect our residents.”

Mayor Lumumba said he had been in contact with Mayors across the country and medical experts from places like Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

“I will play the bad guy,” Mayor Lumumba said. “Wearing a mask is sometimes uncomfortable, strange and odd. But at the same time, I hold dear my responsibility to make certain we keep residents safe.”

Physician Dr. Timothy Quinn, a member of the city’s COVID-19 Task Force, said that the decision to require a facial covering was made in the interest of the community’s health as a whole. 

“It is not getting better; it is getting worse,” Dr. Quinn said of the latest health numbers. “Masks provide an extra level of protection by decreasing the spread of this potentially deadly infection.”

Dr. Cedrick Buckley, a trained virologist, spoke passionately regarding amended World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control recommendations, even evoking the names of “leadership from the highest offices” who now say wearing a facial covering is crucial.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence have all said in recent days there should be no stigma about wearing a mask. 

“If your local officials, in consultation with the state, are directing you to wear a mask, we encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas. And where you can’t maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea,” Pence said.

COVID-19 Task Force member and Visit Jackson President and CEO Rickey Thigpen said his organization was working hard with restaurants, hotels and attractions to reopen the city. 

“As we reopen and bring people to JXN and urge citizens to rediscover JXN, we want to do so in a safe manner,” he said, adding that Visit Jackson would be providing personal protective equipment resources to their partner businesses and organizations.

While the position on facial coverings had been one of recommendation, today’s order is not a suggestion, a point which the Mayor acknowledged may anger his critics. 

“If you disagree with me,” he said, “please wear a mask and live to disagree with me another day.”

Lumumba noted in his remarks that he and others will use the word mask and facial coverings interchangeably, understanding that some don’t have access to a proper face mask. A tee-shirt, scarf or bandana, he has said in the past, would suffice.