Published on March 3rd, 2021 | by Newt Rayburn


City of Oxford Votes Unanimously to End Pandemic Mask Mandates and Restaurant Restrictions

Not to be out done by the Lone Star State, within minutes of Texas Governor Greg Abbott rescinding COVID-19 executive orders, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves nullified several orders of his own.

As of 5 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021, mask mandates are no longer in effect in Mississippi. As well, businesses may choose to open up to pre-pandemic levels up to 100% capacity. Restrictive hours of alcohol sales in bars and restaurants have been discontinued and are now back to regular hours not seen in nearly a year.

The Governor left open the authority of local and county governments to keep their own restrictions in place. However, the City of Oxford took up the matter at their bi-weekly meeting last night and overwhelming voted to accept the Governor’s authority and decision.

“I think we have done a great job here, and a lot of that was because we were more strict than the Governor’s orders early on,” said Alderman-At-Large John Morgan. “I don’t see any reason now why we would not follow the Governor’s guidelines, although I would hope that anybody that still felt like they wanted to wear a mask would wear a mask and any business owner that wanted to have a sign out front still requiring a mask, should be able do it.”

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she had heard from several local business owners who wanted to keep restrictions in place.

“I’ve already heard from several that said, ‘Whatever y’all decide, I’m still going to require masks in my business. Can I do that?’” said Mayor Robyn Tannehill. “Absolutely you can.”

After the meeting, the Oxford Police Department delivered a warning on social media.

“Businesses will be allowed to determine what is best for them and their employees,” read the OPD post. “Some businesses may still require a mask before entering.”

“If you do not adhere to their rules, you can be asked to leave the premises. If they choose to remain at 50% capacity that is their decision. We will not tolerate people berating businesses for their decisions.”

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted tonight to follow Governor Tate Reeves’ latest executive order on Covid related…

Posted by Oxford MS Police Department on Tuesday, March 2, 2021

End of All Music Record Store owner David Swider released his own statement online.

“Ya still gotta #wearamask if you wanna come in the record store regardless of what #tatereeves says about mask mandates in Mississippi,” Swider’s statement read. “Our COVID protocols at the shop are staying in place until further notice.”

“Huge thanks to everyone that’s chill about this when they come thru the shop… we know it’s not ideal but we believe it’s very necessary.”

The Governor’s new executive order opens outdoor sporting stadiums up to 100% capacity. This includes the Ole Miss Baseball stadium. However, indoor arenas must remain at 50% capacity. This affects Ole Miss Basketball’s Pavilion.

Ole Miss Athletic Director Keith Carter issued a statement after the Governor’s decision.

“We are grateful that the Governor has seen enough progress in addressing COVID-19 in our state to issue the new executive order,” said Carter. “It is only through the dedication and hard work of our first responders and others in the medical community that these measures are possible.”

“The past year has provided our department a tremendous learning experience for hosting events in a safe manner, and those best practices will help guide our actions as we ramp up our operation to host increased crowds,” Carter continued. “We ask for your patience as we process these new executive orders and adapt our gameday procedures as quickly as possible.”

Curbside Pickup and Outdoor Dining was left in place by the Board of Alderman through the month of March. However, at least one business quickly discontinued it.

“In light of the lifted covid restrictions, we will no longer be able to offer curbside pickup starting March 3, 2021,” read a post by Volta Taverna. “We will be back at full capacity, and we will be offering seating at the bar.”

“Our staff will continue to wear masks and encourage our patrons to wear them too.”

In light of the lifted covid restrictions, we will no longer be able to offer curbside pickup starting March 3, 2021. We…

Posted by Volta Taverna on Tuesday, March 2, 2021

After the unanimous decision by the Board to accept the Governor’s decision, Mayor Tannehill followed up with a request.

“We are getting back to normal, Oxford, Mississippi,” she said. “We are headed in the right direction.”

“I do want to reiterate, please still wear your masks!”

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in March of 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt Rayburn's alter ego—Neuter Cooter—lead the Mississippi band THE COOTERS to Rocknoll Glory across the USA from 1993-2018. Newt is a family man who also is a publisher, photographer, writer, musician, landlord, and Civil War enthusiast.

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