Mayor Toby Barker has announced that Hattiesburg businesses will follow the executive order recently issued by Gov. Tate Reeves – which lifts restrictions such as limits on seating and capacity at those establishments – although workers will still be required to wear masks. On March 2, the governor issued an executive order that ended the mask mandate that was previously established to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The governor said his decision, which took effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, was based on decreased hospitalization numbers related to COVID-19. The state is also quickly vaccinating its citizens; the Health Department said Tuesday that nearly 410,000 Mississippians – out of a statewide population of about 3 million – had received a first dose of vaccine. Barker said on Tuesday he hopes the changes will bring a “functional normal” for residents as the COVID-19 danger decreases but remains present.