City approves penalties for those in violation of emergency COVID-19 resolution

Published 5:38 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Any restaurant owner who chooses to ignore the emergency declaration resolution passed by Oxford’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday will do so at a price.

In a special meeting called on Wednesday, the Board approved an ordinance change to include penalties for any establishment found in violation of the 15-day resolution.

The ordinance that was amended was Section 1-8, General penalties, continuing violations; abatement of nuisances, continuing violations. The amended Section 1-8 now includes, “penalties for violations of orders related to emergencies.”

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“We’ve gotten several questions about it, and I didn’t know exactly what to tell people,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “I just want to be clear with our restaurants that we feel very strongly about trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we believe this is an effective measure for doing so.”

The amended ordinance now reads: “The violation of any such rule, order, or regulation shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, and the cost of prosecution, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the municipal judge, except as provided otherwise by state law.”

As of 6 a.m. on Wednesday, all restaurants and bars were to shut down their dining rooms and shift to drive-thru, curbside (take-out) or delivery methods through April 2. The approved resolution did not have penalties attached to it, which required the Board to call the special meeting on Wednesday.

If an establishment, or owner of said establishment, is found in violation, an officer with the Oxford Police Department will write them a post-arrest citation. If the business continues to stay in violation after receiving their citation, further action could be taken, if deemed appropriate.