Local restaurants respond to MSDH's new dine-in recommendation

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) 60 new coronavirus cases were reported by the Mississippi State Department of Health Saturday morning, bringing the total from 80 to 140 cases overnight.

On Friday, the Mississippi State Department of Health released a statement recommending all restaurant and bars suspend dine-in service in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

With the new recommendation, restaurants like Shipley Do-Nuts in Meridian are reevaluating what to do with their dine-in areas.

While the restaurant is primarily grab and go, owner Rodolfo Rios shared he did see the recommendation and is heavily considering closing its dine-in area.

“We opened this store with Christian values and we are mandated to obey government authorities and so if they recommend to shut down the lobby we will do it," Rios said. "It will be closed for dining in, but people can still come in and carry out."

The Mississippi State Department of Health has not recommended restaurants shut down completely, saying they can still offer carryout service and utilize drive-thru if available.

Honey Baked Ham, which serves mainly as a market but also has the option of dining-in, plans to leave its dining room open, but will continue with preventative steps already put in place.

“We have a lot of customers that we’re taking food out to their car" Honey Baked Ham owner Karrie Goodman shared. "They’ll call us or call in an order and we’ll take it out to their car, or they can just come to the door and we’ll take it out to the door.”

The store has placed a sign marked "stop" by its register to ensure customers in-line to order follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 6 feet apart recommendation. The store has also limited one customer at a time when filling up drinks as well as decreased their already limited inside seating.

Some restaurants in town have completely seized operations such as Sake Sushi. The popular Japanese spot in Meridian posted a sign saying they are closed until further notice.

Weidmann’s in downtown Meridian has still kept its dining room open but is offering delivery for the first time ever to accommodate with the changing times.

Mississippi’s Alcoholic Beverage Control has also permitted restaurants to offer wine with to-go orders effective until April 30th. This means a customer can order food for takeout and now take a single, unopened bottle of win to go with them as well. Home deliveries of alcohol are not permitted at this time.

More information can be found here: https://www.dor.ms.gov/Pages/Restaurant-Doggie-Bag-Wine-Sales-Allowed-.aspx

While the Mississippi State Department of Health has only recommended bars and restaurants suspend dine-in service, it could become mandatory soon as several states such as New York, Kentucky and Ohio have been limited to takeout or delivery only.

"We've had a few phone calls with people asking 'are you guys doing delivery or curbside pickup'," Frazier said. "I think it's going to be good...I really hope so."