Oxford Aldermen to consider closing all restaurant dining rooms due to COVID-19 pandemic

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

While some local restaurants have already closed off their dining rooms to customers to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), all Oxford eateries may soon be required to do the same.

In a video posted on her Facebook page, Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced she will ask the Oxford Board of Aldermen to consider approve a request to mandate all bars and restaurants to go strictly to drive-thru, curbside pickup or delivery and close their dining rooms for the next 15 days.

If the Board approves Tannehill’s request during their regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the mandate would go into effect at 6 a.m. on March 18.

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“We hope that these measures will be the difference between a two-to-four week emergency situation and six-to-eight week emergency situation,” Tannehill said. “We want to stay ahead of it as much as we can. In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be quite apparent if we under-reacted, or did too little.”

Tannehill said she is not asking for a complete shutdown of the restaurants and bars of Oxford at this time, in the hopes this measure will be enough to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Despite the lack of a confirmed presumptive case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Lafayette County, one official at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi said he feels the virus is in the LOU Community.

In Tannehill’s video, she read a prepared statement by Dr. Jason Waller, Chief of Staff at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, which mentions the lack of COVID-19 tests at their facility.

“As of this moment, we do not have any confirmed cases in our county, but in my opinion, it is here,” Waller’s statement read. “Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to test everyone. We are only able to test the patients sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. Hopefully, testing will be more widely available in the coming weeks, but that may be too late. We must stay ahead of the curve, and it is our duty to take measures to protect ourselves, our family and neighbors.”

On Tuesday, the Mississippi State Health Department announced the state had nine new confirmed presumptive COVID-19 cases, bringing to the total to 21. The only counties north of Jackson that have confirmed cases continue to be LeFlore with four, and Monroe with one.

Mayor Tannehill’s entire video statement can be seen below: