The City of Oxford, Mississippi Board of Aldermen held a special meeting on Tuesday, April 28 to discuss the possible reopening of local businesses. Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Oxford Aldermen heard a presentation by Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood who presented data that showed that Oxford’s peak cases of COVID-19 was April 18, 2020.
According to the “Serving Oxford Safely Phase 1 Recovery Plan” adopted by the Board on April 23, the date of implementing the plan was to be two weeks after Oxford’s peak, which have been Saturday, May 2.
However, Aldermen Mark Huelse (Ward II) and Rick Addy (Ward I) were in favor of allowing the implementation sooner than that, beginning Wednesday, April 29. Alderwoman Janice Antonow (Ward III) wanted to stick to the original plan.
After much discussion between Aldermen and the city Attorney, Pope Mallette, Alderman Jason Bailey (Ward VI) made a motion to implement Phase 1 on Wednesday, April 29. Alderman At-Large John Morgan seconded the motion.
Alderwoman Antonow reluctantly went along with the motion but cautioned that if there is a spike in COVID-19 again, businesses may have to be shut down again.
“I worry that we are going to open, then we are going to have a spike in cases and we’re going to have to shut down again,” said Alderwoman Antonow. “To me that would be the worst thing for a small business, to get their employees off of unemployment and back in the swing of things and then we have to close them down again.”
The Board voted on the fifth emergency resolution and it passed 6 to 1. Alderman Preston Taylor (Ward V) voted against the measure.
The Board’s Fifth Emergency Declaration was passed and largely reenforced Governor Tate Reeves Executive Order #1477, which was signed April 24 and went into effect on Monday, April 27. But the Board’s add some addition restrictions not in the Governor’s Executive Order.
Governor Tate Reeves Executive Order #1477 can be read here.
The Board of Aldermen’s Fifth Emergency Declaration reads as follows:
Section 1: Except to the extent set forth herein, the findings and regulations adopted in the City’s Fourth Resolution Declaring Additional Measures for the Control of Contagious and Infectious Diseases and for the Protection of Public Health and Welfare and for Related Purposes (“Fourth Resolution”) shall remain in full force and effect until the expiration of Executive Order 1477 on May 11, 2020.
Section 2: Effective at 8:00 am on April 29, 2020, the City of Oxford adopts all findings and regulations contained in Executive Order 1477, with the following modifications and amendments. All precautions and protective measures outlined in Phase 1 of “SERVING OXFORD SAFELY – A PLAN FOR RECOVERY PHASE 1” (“Plan”) shall be required until further order of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
Additionally, all businesses and services must require the following face covering and social distancing measures until further order of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
1) Employees shall properly wear face coverings ensuring the face covering covers the mouth and nose.
2) All businesses shall monitor all points of entrance and prohibit entrance into the business by any individual over the age of six (6) years not wearing a face covering.
3) Management of each business must provide adequate supervision to ensure compliance of the face-covering requirement to include but not limited to door monitors to monitor the entrance of the public and floor supervision for employees.
4) Prominent signs at every entrance informing customers they must stay 6 feet away from other customers who did not accompany them to the store;
5) For businesses with existing public-public address systems, regular announcements instructing customers to stay six feet away from each other;
6) Markers on floors and signage measuring six-foot intervals and instructing people where to stand in checkout lanes and other lines;
7) Employees specifically tasked to enforce social distancing among customers, and employees specifically dedicated to that task in the case of large retail establishments such as grocery stores whose publicly accessible areas cannot be viewed at once;
8) For businesses that utilize such technology, signage encouraging cashless purchases, online ordering and pickup, and use of self-service checkout stations.
Section 3: Individuals may leave their places of residence to visit any essential or nonessential business authorized to open under the terms of this Resolution but are encouraged to comply with the “Safer at Home” and “Shelter in Place” provisions of Executive Order 1477 to the greatest extent possible.
Section 4: All businesses, agencies and units of government located within the City of Oxford shall continue to take all reasonable measures to ensure that such businesses comply with the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health recommendations and guidance, and shall implement appropriate safeguards to prevent the spread of infectious disease, including but not limited to: mandating social distancing, sending home sick employees and actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, separating and sending home employees who appear to have respiratory illness symptoms, emphasizing work-from-home policies where possible, mandating respiratory etiquette and proper hand hygiene, maintaining clean and sanitary workplaces, cautioning employees regarding travel, and taking all such additional measures to prohibit and/or reduce the spread of infectious disease, and especially COVID-19.
Section 5: The Mayor may issue such other orders as are necessary for the protection of life and liberty. The Mayor is also empowered and authorized to interpret the terms of this Resolution and any executive order incorporated and referenced herein to the extent necessary to enforce this resolution or any such order.
Section 6: The penalties for violation of this adopted resolution shall be the same as those listed in the ordinance amending Chapter 1, Code of Ordinances of the City of Oxford, Mississippi – General Provisions, which the City of Oxford adopted on or about March 18, 2020.
Section 7: The City, in consultation with its Emergency Management Coordinator, local health care professionals, and with consideration for national and State guidance, shall continuously monitor conditions to determine certain milestones, peaks, and trajectories for the presence of COVID-19 in the Oxford, Lafayette County, and local University of Mississippi communities, and shall change restrictions and requirements in a phased manner as further outlined in the Plan. In the event a later peak in active COVID-19 cases is identified, the Mayor and Board shall consider whether further restrictions are necessary.
Section 8: To the extent Executive Order 1477 precludes the opening of any nonessential retail business that would otherwise be allowed to be opened by this Resolution or the Plan, the restrictions of Executive Order 1477 shall govern. The intent of this Resolution is not to be less restrictive than Executive Order 1477 in any way.
All of this goes into effect at 8 am, Wendesday, April 29, 2020.
Video of the Board of Aldermen meeting may be watched here: