The board of aldermen passed Oxford’s fourth emergency resolution during the COVID-19 crisis, which will extend the stay-at-home order until May 18.
In addition to the extended resolution, the board passed that starting on April 25, all employees at essential business must wear masks or face coverings properly at all times. Business owners must have all entrances monitored and can prohibit anyone over the age of six who is not wearing a mask from entering the establishment.
Face coverings are not limited strictly to medical masks and can include bandanas, scarves or any cloth that covers the face and nose.
Despite the strengthening of social distancing practices, the board also passed that non-essential businesses can reopen for curbside services on April 30.
In a video statement on Facebook, Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced that the board — after consulting with health professionals and various health and safety departments — has developed a recovery plan for the city called Serving Oxford Safely. Tannehill said that the first phase of the plan — which includes the next steps for close-contact businesses like barbers and nail salons — cannot be in effect until two weeks after the peak of coronavirus cases.
This, she said, does not necessarily mean two weeks after April 30.
“In order to determine the peak, we need to have enough data on the other side (of the curve) showing a decrease in active cases,” she said, adding that she believes that the peak of active cases will be within the next week.
The goal of Serving Oxford Safely is to develop a plan to completely reopen the city of Oxford by August 1, a date that Tannehill called “the light at the end of the tunnel.” She said that the key to the plan’s success was continuing social distancing and wearing masks.
“If you are in a car accident, and you’re not wearing a seatbelt, that’s not going to affect me. If you have the coronavirus and are not wearing a mask, that is going to affect me. Your behavior not only affects you. It affects everyone around you,” she said.