Jones County Chamber’s Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

General Info & Guidelines

The Jones County Chamber of Commerce is committed to providing our local community and future visitors with the most current and relevant information available during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions about the resources listed below or suggestions for new information to add, please reach out to our Chamber team. We hope you all stay safe!
(601) 335-4828 or

Governor Tate Reeves has reinstated a mask mandate for Jones County that will be in effect until Wednesday, November 11 (per Executive Order 1528). See Executive Order 1527 for details.

Additionally, group gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people in a single indoor space and no more than 50 in an outdoor space. Exceptions for religious entities, voting precincts, students in classrooms, and gatherings governed by other capacity limitations covered by Executive Order 1525.

Every person must wear a face covering with the following exceptions:
i. Persons who cannot wear a face covering due to medical or behavioral issues
ii. Person communicating with the hearing impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible
iii. Persons eating or drinking
iv. Persons engaged in an activity that requires security surveillance or screening while the persons are under security surveillance or screening
v. While swimming or other activities in a swimming pool
vi. While engaged in fitness or exercise or other sports activities in gyms
vii. While engaged in school athletic practices
viii. Persons, including teachers, while giving a speech or presentation or performance for a broadcast to an audience or students
ix. While actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship
x. While voting or assisting a voter
xi. Children under the age of six (6) are exempt xii.Any other setting where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, e.g. dental service

Executive Order 1492 and all amendments thereto, and Executive Order 1517 are rescinded and shall stand repealed.

Reopening Guidelines

The Chamber hosted an interactive webinar on May 6 with Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s State Health Officer, and Dr. Mark Horne, Chief Medical Officer at South Central Regional Medical Center. The panelists provided updates on the local COVID-19 numbers and response, and then took questions from Chamber members pertaining to steps to take to safely reopen their doors to employees and customers. The webinar may be viewed HERE. password: 8h%&9^^@

National Guides & Resources

Business Resources

Business Assistance Programs

NEW Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program

On May 20, Governor Tate Reeves signed SB2772 into law, establishing the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program. The grants will be used to help businesses in Mississippi with 50 or fewer employees recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. Companies that meet eligibility requirements could qualify for up to $25,000 based on the number of employees. The Mississippi Development Authority soon will begin accepting applications on this site from small businesses. Please check back frequently for updates or sign up below for email notifications.

Eligibility Requirements  |  Application

NEW Mississippi 30 Day Fund Offers Forgivable Loans

The Mississippi 30 Day Fund provides forgivable loans for Mississippi-based small businesses that meet the requirements below:

– For-profit businesses that employ three to 30 people;

– Based in Mississippi and have been operating for at least one year;

– Owned and operated by a Mississippi resident.

The forgivable loan is intended to provide immediate financial assistance, as small business owners reopen and navigate a new social and economic reality. These loans can be critical in preventing the shutdowns of small businesses whose profits have dwindled over the past trying months. The MS 30 Day Fund is designed to be quick, easy, and free of red tape, as small business owners work to keep employees on board and operations running in the near term.

Additional Details  |  Application

Small Business Administration Assistance Program Governor Tate Reeves’s request for an Economic Disaster Declaration by the U.S. Small Business Administration was approved on March 20.The entire state of Mississippi has been declared a disaster for COVID-19 which opens up disaster loan assistance for small businesses and eligible non-profits for economic injury relief. All Mississippi businesses and non-profits that are severely impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) may apply for up to $2 million in working capital that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,

Advance on EIDL Loans
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which includes the opportunity to get up to a $10,000 Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This advance may be available even if your EIDL application was declined or is still pending, and will be forgiven.

If you wish to apply for the Advance on your EIDL, please visit as soon as possible to fill out a NEW, streamlined application. In order to qualify for the Advance, you need to submit this new application even if you previously submitted an EIDL application. Applying for the Advance will not impact the status or slow your existing application.

The SBA has reported scams about the EIDLs, and as of now, there are no immediate deadlines to apply, there are no fees to apply and no credit card information is required.
(source U.S. Small Business Administration)

Facebook Small Business Grants

Hotels for Hope: Government agencies and public health officials across the country are seeking hoteliers who are willing to enter into temporary leases for certain types of lodging properties at this time. The American Hotel & Lodging Association is creating a database of willing properties in order to meet the demand for housing capacity during the pandemic.
Details  |  Sign Up Form

The National Restaurant Association Educational Fund set up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to help restaurant industry employees experiencing hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Through this fund, $500 grants will be made to industry employees on a first-come-first served bases.
MHRA relief fund   |  Apply for the NRAEF Grant



$2 Trillion CARES Act Signed by President Trump: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
What Small Businesses Need to Know – New Details On:
>>Small Business “Paycheck Protection Program”
>>Changes to SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans
>>Unemployment Programs
>>Paid Leave Changes

U.S. Chamber Summary  |  MEC Summary

The CARES Act includes a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. The PPP prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

US Chamber Fact Sheet for PPP  | info for PPP

Under this program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  •  If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable.

Borrowers may apply for different SBA loans – PPP loans, EIDL loans, non-disaster SBA 7(a), 504 and microloans, and also receive investment capital from Small Business Investment Corporations (SBICs). However, you cannot use your PPP loan for the same purpose as your other SBA loan(s). If you accept the EIDL loan, and you subsequently qualify for the PPP loan, you can re-finance the EIDL loan with the PPP loan.

PPP Guidelines for Applicants & Lenders

Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap. Additional information available,

PPP Loan Forgiveness Information 


MS Dept. Employment Security & Unemployment

COVID-19 Resource Page for Workers & Employees 

Governor Tate Reeves signed Executive Order 1502 on June 26, 2020. This new Executive Order replaces Executive Order 1481 that was signed by the Governor on May 11, 2020.

NEW MDES Introduces ReStart Mississippi Online Reporting System

ReStart MS provides employers with information on employees presently filing or who have previously filed for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Utilizing this system will aid in the prevention of improper unemployment payments and assist in getting the workforce back to work sooner.

ReStart MS allows employers to report:

  • Rehires
  • Refusal of Work
  • Inability to Locate
  • Potential Fraudulent / ID Theft Claims

ReStart Mississippi Reporting Details

Mississippi Department of Employment Security: How to file unemployment claims
MDES announced that Mississippi workers who are not able to work due to COVID-19 are eligible to file for unemployment benefits. Based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and Governor Tate Reeves, MDES is modifying existing unemployment compensation rules to include:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employers due to COVID-19 concerns,
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Website  |  Facebook  |  File a Claim

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

What Employers Need To Know About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
FAQ Sheet for Businesses-1 | FAQ Sheet for Businesses-2  |  Emergency Leave Request Form
HR6201 Bill Details

U.S. Department Of Labor Announces Additional Guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
News Release w/ LinksEmployee Rights Poster  |  Employer Requirements  |  Guide from the US Chamber

Jones County Tourisum & Attractions





Visit Laurel & Jones County COVID-19 FAQs

  • Governor Tate Reeves has reinstated a mask mandate for Jones County that will be in effect until Wednesday, November 11 (per Executive Order 1528). See Executive Order 1527 for details.
  • Are businesses in Laurel and Jones County open for visitors?
    • All businesses in Mississippi are now allowed to reopen. Most of the stores and restaurants in Laurel and Jones County have reopened and are welcoming visitors. Please check the individual Facebook pages and websites for current hours and updates. A list of open attractions is below.
  • What measures/orders are in place to protect visitors?
    • The Jones County Board of Supervisors have extended the mask mandate locally through Monday, September 5. Residents and visitors are encouraged to follow the CDC’s and Mississippi Department of Health’s guidelines, which includes practicing social distancing.  Restaurants are operating at 75% capacity. Retail businesses are also asked to keep capacity to 75%. Individual merchants may require additional precautions to be taken. Review Executive Order 1525 that is in effect until November 12 for more details.
  • Is it safe to travel to Laurel and Jones County?
    • Jones County has seen spikes in cases of COVID-19 over the past few months, similar to many parts of our region and country. The decision to travel is your personal decision based on your risk factors and vulnerabilities. If you have come into contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, we ask that you reschedule your visit. Our merchants and owners are taking precautions to keep their employees and customers safe. Visit the Mississippi Department of Health’s website for current case numbers and to view Jones County specific current data,, to help you make a decision that is in your personal best interest.
  • Home Town questions
    • Can we meet Erin and Ben Napier? Erin and Ben are active members of our community and can sometimes be spotted out and about carrying out their normal activities. However, they are also fairly busy with filming season 5 and their other business ventures. There are times when they pop in to the Laurel Mercantile or the woodshop at the Scotsman General Store. However, they have asked that you please refrain from taking photos with them, as they are following strict social distancing guidelines to protect the Home Town crew and production.
    • Can I have a map of the houses feature on the show? There is not a map available of the houses renovated on Home Town because these are private residences and the homeowners’ privacy should be respected. What we recommend is to visit the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and pick up a Historic Walking Tour Map. This map will take you throughout the beautiful historic district and you will see and learn more about the homes built in the early 1900’s and so much more about Laurel’s history. If you are familiar with the homes on Home Town, you will be able to spot some along your route while enjoying the walking tour.
    • Will Ben & Erin renovate a house for me? If you are interested in working with Ben & Erin on a home, the first step is to contact the casting team with RTR Media, the show’s production company. Because of the length of the filming schedule and their other ventures, Ben and Erin do no renovate homes outside of the families cast on the show.
    • Please also refer to this article from Laurel Main Street pertaining to respecting the privacy of homes and homeowners featured on Home Town.
  • What hotel should I stay in?
    • We have a number of national hotel brands in Jones County. You can view a list on the Where to Stay tab on The hotels may have adjusted services and amenities now, so please call them for the specific changes at the property. There are also two traditional bed & breakfasts in downtown Laurel, The Grandiflora  and The Wisteria, in addition to many properties available on Air BNB.
  • How do I set up a group tour?
    • Contact the Tourism Department at the Jones County Chamber of Commerce to learn more about attractions, restaurants and events best suited for groups of all sizes. 601-335-4828 or
  • How do I stay up to date with where to Eat, Shop, Stay and Play in Laurel and Jones County?
  • I would like to request an information packet to be mailed to me.
    • Great, we are glad you are interested in visiting us! We can mail a tourism packet to you at no charge. E-mail your name and address to

Attraction Updates (as of 10/1/20)

Local Government, Schools & Services

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency

MSEMA ResourcesMEMA FAQ  |  Covid-19 Testing Sites

Jones County Emergency Operations Center

Updates on Jones County government agencies, departments and services.
Facebook Page | Modified Operations & Updates

South Central Regional Medical Center

SCRMC Resource Page   |  SC Telehealth Press Release  |  Visitation Policy  |  Elective Surgery Update: 7/8/20

From the City of Laurel – Update on City Facilities & Meetings

Statement from Mayor Magee – March 18, 2020
Statement from Mayor Magee – March, 24, 2020
Executive Order No. MA-6 from Mayor Magee – March 26, 2020

From the Jones County Board of Supervisors

Please be advised that Jones County buildings are now closed to any walk-in traffic due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please call the Board of Supervisors at (601) 428-3139 during normal business hours for assistance. We encourage all business to be conducted by e-mail, mail or telephone. The courts will remain open.

  • Chancery Clerk – (601) 428-0527
  • Chancery Court – (601) 428-3623
  • Circuit Clerk – (601) 425-2556
  • Circuit Court – (601) 428-4572
  • Board of Supervisors – (601) 428-3139
  • Tax Assessor/Collector – (601) 426-3248


Comcast has been coordinating with emergency management, health officials and other government leaders to support the collective effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Recently, Comcast announced the implementation of the following new policies for the next 60 days to Keep America Connected:

  • Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone
  • No Disconnects or Late Fees
  • Internet Essentials Free to New Customers
  • News, Information and Educational Content on X1 and Flex
  • 24×7 Network Monitoring
  • Coronavirus Webpage
  • Additional Information Available HERE

Chamber Statements

Friday, March 13, 2020

On behalf of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, we want to share with you that the health and safety of our members and entire community remain our top priorities. Due to the concern and precautionary measures already being taken to control the spread of COVID-19, the Chamber is suspending all of our meetings and events through the end of March. We will continue to monitor this unprecedented situation and reference the advice of our government agencies and elected officials as decisions are made about Chamber meetings and events scheduled for April and beyond.

Our staff will continue to be available to serve you, and we encourage you to call, 601-649-3031 or 601-335-4828, or e-mail our team,, with any questions, issues or inquiries.

As employers, no matter your size, we understand that there will be an added burden on your businesses due to the impact of COVID-19. There are many resources available to assist you in developing strategies to protect your workforce while ensuring continuity of operations. Please review the links below provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which are based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also will continue to share relevant resources with you as they become available.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Chamber, and if there is anything that we can do to support you during this time, please let us know.

Message to Chamber Members on March 24, 2020

The Chamber continues to diligently monitor the COVID-19 crisis, and there are multiple updates that we wanted to share with our membership. First, on behalf of the Chamber Board, we are thinking of you, all of you, during this unprecedented time. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Chamber team if you have any questions about the information we are sharing, requests for resources or issues that we need to address. Please call 601-649-3031 or 601-335-4828, or e-mail our team,

The Chamber Board voted this week to suspend all Chamber programs and in-person meetings for the month of April. This unfortunately includes the April 24 Member Golf Tournament. We are working on options for this event and others, and please continue to check this weekly update and our social pages, @jonescountychamber on Facebook and Instagram. Events in May and beyond will be evaluated on a monthly basis.

Thank you to our healthcare, pharmacy, grocery, restaurant and other members who are serving Jones County on the front lines. You are our heroes right now, and your efforts are truly making an impact on our community.


May 19, 2020

The Jones County Chamber of Commerce is offering Disaster Relief Micro Grants for Chamber members. Members must be in good standing, have 25 or fewer employees and meet additional requirements, as noted on the application form. Applications will be accepted online beginning Wednesday, May 20 at 12:00 PM through May 29 at 5:00 PM. Grants will be awarded between $300-500, as funds are available. The Disaster Relief Micro Grant program is made possible by Mississippi Power and Dixie Electric.