By Alyssa Schnugg
The Oxford Board of Aldermen took their first baby step toward reopening the city Tuesday night by voting to allow “non-essential” retail businesses to offer curbside pickup again as of April 30.
However, the change is only one of many that residents will see once the city approves and rolls out its multi-phase reopening plan, dubbed “Serving Oxford Safely: A plan for recovery.”
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said the Board of Aldermen will be meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss Phase 1 of the plan and when it should be implemented.
The first thing she will ask the Board to approve Thursday is to require all citizens to wear masks or some type of face coverings that cover the nose and mouth when out in public.
Tannehill said some people have said they can’t find masks to purchase.
“It doesn’t have to be a mask,” she said Tuesday during the regular Board of Aldermen meeting. “It can be a homemade mask or scarf. It just has to cover the nose and mouth and be worn properly.”
During the meeting, Dr. Jason Waller with Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi said the city will want to start Phase 1 of the reopening plan 14 days after the peak of positive cases starts to decline.
“Most models indicate our peak to be around April 17 through the 23rd,” he said.
On Sunday, the state saw its biggest jump of cases since March, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.
“If we’re in the peak now, then we should start to see a decline of cases,” Waller said.
Waller said the best way to ensure the plan to reopen is successful is for citizens to wear face coverings and continue to practice safe distancing while avoiding large groups to gather in one place.
“(COVID-19) is still in the community,” he said.
Tannehill said the city’s goal is to have everything 100 percent open by Aug. 1.
“We want doors wide open to welcome the masses by Aug. 1,” she said Tuesday. “We know this community has to be open for fall.”
Tannehill said the reopening will be done slowly over the next few months so there is no big resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases, forcing the city to have to shut down again.
The full plan will be available on the city’s website sometime Wednesday, Tannehill said, for community members to review before the board meets on Thursday to further discuss the plan.
The Board will also review the current resolutions in place and discuss any possible changes before Phase 1 of the reopening plan goes into place.
To view the entire Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday click here.