by Hunter Dawkins

At the Frank P. Wittmann Municipal Court Building Saturday morning in Pass Christian, the Board of Aldermen adopted by a 3-2 vote the mayoral proclamation of an executive order for temporary closing of entrances to city buildings, municipal facilities, gatherings of more than 10 people, and the close of various establishments or limited access in the city during a special called meeting.

This proclamation states that all bars, nightclubs, or private clubs located in the city of Pass Christian should close except to the extent that such establishments may only provide takeout, pick-up, delivery, or drive through services for food as allowed by law.

“This information needs to be disseminated correctly,” said Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott.  “These things are changing every ten minutes.”

The brief deliberation came from the timing of establishment and public parks along with recreational facilities being closed at 11:59pm under the order.  Discussion was brought forth of a potential 8pm closure, to which the final vote 3-2 was cast to keep the original proposal to midnight.  Ward 1 Alderman Buddy Clarke and Ward 2 Alderman Regina Charlot voted against the 11:59pm closure.

Following the vote, Pass Christian Police Chief Daren Freeman raised a question for payment of officers, firefighters and first responders.  City Attorney Malcolm Jones responded with a legal ramification to addressing more than one issue, since it was not the agenda item for which the special meeting was called.  “I’m telling you the officers that are out in the field while being exposed to this crisis while others are sitting at home,” expressed Freeman.  “They should be compensated because these officers will go to other cities due to pay.”

“The chief has talked to other agencies that are paying these first responder officials overtime along with their regular pay,” said Pass Christian Municipal Clerk Marion Governor towards the board.  Governor and Freeman have set up a pay on the clock of emergency duty time for the Police Department for records if approved.

The city did not address this concern, but will announce their tentative meeting time this upcoming week.

In a release by the city after the meeting adjourned, the statement read:

“In order to comply with the directives and guidelines of the CDC, the Mississippi State Department of Health, as well as the President of the United States ,as part of an effort to thwart the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and to safeguard the health and safety of the public, including City employees, public entrances to all municipal buildings and facilities including municipal parks and recreational facilities, within the City of Pass Christian shall be, and hereby are, temporarily closed to the public as of 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, and shall not re-open until April 7, 2020, or further notice or expiration of the ongoing State of Emergency related to this pandemic issued by the City of Pass Christian, whichever shall occur first, with the understanding that the public can still contact and perform business with City officials and employees through non-face-to-face contact via the telephone, e-mail, drive thru service (where available), and written communications (regular U. S. Mail, etc.) during this period of time.

All events of more than ten (10) people in the City of Pass Christian are hereby temporarily prohibited; and (2) all events of ten (10) people or fewer in the City of Pass Christian are limited, as provided herein:

I. An event as defined as an organized, orchestrated or sponsored gathering that people are invited to attend or encouraged to attend through advertising or membership. Further, an event is a gathering for business, social, or recreational activity, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, or sporting event; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers, large private parties, celebrations, or banquets; and artistic performances and spiritual and faith-based gatherings.

  1. An event, is not a public location where people pass through, such as transportation centers, airports, public squares, and shopping areas, Retail establishments such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and banks are not events. Medical facilities, office environments, factories, schools, universities, and City-owned or leased buildings where essential functions and services are being carried out are not events.

All restaurants located in the City of Pass Christian, with or without drive-in or drive-through services, may only provide take-out, pick-up delivery (curbside), or drive-through services as allowed by law. There shall be no in-house dining or available sitting areas for the public.

Any violations of the Proclamation of Executive Order passed by the City of Pass Christian, may be subject to misdemeanor prosecution pursuant to State Law, including, but not limited to, Miss. Code Ann. § 45-17-9.”