Masks Still Required, Necessary for Oxford’s Return to ‘Normalcy’

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

The Oxford Board of Aldermen made a few slight changes and additions to its reopening plan Tuesday night while stressing the importance of continuing to wear face coverings while in local retail businesses.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she’s received several questions in the last few days in regard to wearing face coverings and if it is still required. She read from the city’s resolution that states the requirement to wear a face covering inside businesses remain in effect until such time as the Board of Aldermen vote to remove the requirement.

“As soon as it’s recommended to be safe to remove face coverings, I know this board will take that into consideration,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and personal hygiene is precisely what we need to do to keep these numbers low until we have a vaccine.”

Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood reported that there have been 109 positive cases in Lafayette County since March but there are now about 12 active cases currently.

He also reported that the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is sending out 1.7 million masks to every county in Mississippi starting tomorrow that are to be distributed to citizens as needed.

“That’s how important face masks are,” he said. “The state is now providing them to every county in the state.”

Tannehill said she believes that asking people to wear a mask is “not too much ask” to allow Oxford to start getting back to normal.

“I show love and respect to my neighbor when they can see that I’m not putting them in danger by not wearing a mask,” Tannehill said. “By not wearing a mask, you are basically saying that you don’t give a damn about others. I know it’s uncomfortable … But if we want to have a successful reopening than I think that’s what we have to do.”

In regard to residents who cannot wear a mask due to health reasons, Allgood said the Americans with Disabilities Act has ruled that businesses can require face masks since COVID-19 has been deemed a direct threat to the public safety.

Businesses are encouraged, however, to make other arrangements for customers where they can do business at the location, whether it be through curbside pickup or delivery options.

Tannehill said anyone who cannot wear a mask due to health issues can call the Mayor’s Office and ask for help.

“We have groups that are happy to make deliveries for people and we would be happy to accommodate anyone who can’t wear a mask and needs to do business at a certain place,” she said.

The Board of Aldermen approved a few changes and additions to Phase 1 of “Serving Oxford Safely: A Plan for Recovery,” during Tuesday’s meeting.

Tattoo parlors were added as businesses allowed to reopen. The verbiage was added to allow a parent or caretaker to accompany a child or someone in their care into salons, dentist offices and other service businesses where the city’s plan states that only one person per technician is allowed in the business.

Earlier on Tuesday Gov. Tate Reeves addressed churches and issued guidelines for them to start safely having indoor services again. Those recommendations were added to the city’s plan as well.

The board also voted to allow all public tennis courts to be open and available to the public. Previously, only every other court was accessible. Also changed was the hours of operations for public pools to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to align with Reeves’ order.