Monday, May 16, 2022

Halloween A Go; Aldermen Relax Some COVID-19 Restrictions

Although Halloween is still six weeks away, parents have started questioning whether or not trick-or-treating will happen in 2020.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen recommended safety guidelines for both the people handing out candy and for the little ones on the receiving end of the sweet treats.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said that while other cities have made formal decisions to cancel trick-or-treating, she wasn’t prepared to ask the Board of Aldermen to make such a mandate.

“I feel our responsibility as city leaders is to give suggestions on how to trick-or-treat in a safe manner,” she said Tuesday during the Board of Aldermen regular meeting at City Hall.

Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood said he researched what other cities are suggesting and prepared a two-part list that offers guidelines for trick-or-treaters and for the people handing out the candy.

Allgood didn’t read the list Tuesday but said it would be posted on the city’s website on Wednesday.

He said the suggestions include three main key points – wear a mask, social distance and use hand sanitizer. Other suggestions include not allowing children to reach into buckets of candy but rather hand the candy to each child and maintain social distancing when in front of doors and while walking on the sidewalks.

After reviewing local COVID-19 data, the Board of Aldermen voted to make a few changes to its Serving Oxford Safely Plan that mostly line up with Gov. Tate Reeves’ latest Executive Order.

Reeves’ Executive Order keeps in place the mask mandate for the state until the end of the month.

In Reeves’ order, he extended social gatherings to 10 people indoors and 50 outdoors when social distancing cannot be achieved, and 20 indoors and 100 outdoors when it cannot. The Aldermen voted to change the city’s rule slightly, allowing 25 outdoors and keeping it 10 indoors whether or not social distancing can happen.

According to state law, the city can be more strict than the Governor’s orders but not more lenient.

The Board voted to match Reeves’ order in regard to allowing retail stores to have up to 75% capacity. The Aldermen also voted to allow restaurants to go up to 75%, as long as tables are still kept 6 feet apart and no more than six people can sit at one table. Reeves’ order was changed to allow 10 people at a table.

“Most Oxford restaurants won’t be able to operate at 75% capacity while still having to keep tables 6 feet apart, so I don’t think the change makes much of a difference,” said Alderman John Morgan.

The Aldermen also allowed self-service drink machines to go back online; however, they must follow suggested guidelines including not having containers with lemons, straws, sugar, et cetera, and only when the drinks can be poured without having to use a hand or figure to trigger the pouring.

Reeves’ order allowed gyms to be open for 24 hours and operate at 75% capacity. The city’s current law has gyms open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and allowing 10 people per one employee inside at one time. The Board voted to follow Reeves’ order by allowing gyms to be open 24 hours but kept the 10 to 1 ratio in place.

For conference centers and event venues, Reeves’ order allows 25% capacity for standing events and up to 75% for seated dinner events with up to 10 people at a table. The aldermen voted to restrict the number of people at a table to six like it is for restaurants.