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Alderman remove mask mandate in city buildings

Anyone entering a City of Oxford building who is fully vaccinated is no longer required to wear a mask while inside.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to remove the mandate for all city buildings, which was the only mask mandate still in place inside Oxford’s city limits.

The board voted to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding people who are fully vaccinated and do not need to wear a mask when indoors. People who enter any city building who are vaccinated can keep their mask off.

City employees who are vaccinated do not have to wear their mask when working inside city buildings.

“They do say that it is still important that those who aren’t vaccinated still wear a mask,” said Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill.

Tannehill noted that around 45 percent of all city employees are fully vaccinated, which is currently higher than the 39 percent of Lafayette County residents fully vaccinated as of May 18.

Any vaccinated residents who enter the Ulysses “Coach” Howell Activity Center or the Oxford Activity Center are not required to wear a mask, but children who participate in any Oxford Park Commission summer camps must still wear their masks.

Alderman Janice Antonow made that a separate motion from the rest of the city buildings, and the motion passed unanimously.

Jimmy Allgood, Oxford’s emergency management director, shared the CDC’s guidance regarding summer camps.

“The CDC is saying for summer camps right now, they still recommend following the operation strategy for K-12 schools, which means masks and social distancing until they come out and change it,” Allgood said.

The mask mandate for all K-12 schools in Mississippi expires after the last day of school for each individual school district. Gov. Tate Reeves kept the mask mandate in place for schools in his latest executive order, but will let it expire when the current order does on May 31.

During a video interview with Y’all Politics on Tuesday, Reeves said he did not expect a mask mandate to be back in place for K-12 when the new school year resumes in August.

“The current requirements in our K through 12 schools, which were put in place in early August has allowed the vast majority of Mississippi kids to be in the classroom this year,” Reeves said. “The current executive order expires on the last day of school, and that’s obviously different in different school districts. But I do not anticipate any mask mandates in K through 12 settings to begin next fall.”