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City Council addresses COVID-19 pandemic

Oxford City Council, which broadcasted its March 17 meeting live, approved waiving all parking meter fees near uptown until further notice. 

Vice Mayor Bill Snavely said he brought up this resolution in response to businesses being restricted to delivery and carry-out per Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s orders. 

“For a lot of customers, they want to just come in quickly, get something, quickly get back into their car and leave,” Snavely said. “We want them to know they can come up and not have to worry about the meter.”

Fees will no longer be collected from parking meters on High Street, East Park Place, West Park Place, Main Street and Beech Street. Council added there would be a two-hour limit on parking.

“People know we’re not going to be enforcing it aggressively, but we want to support turnover and free parking for business,” Councilman David Prytherch said. 

Mayor Mike Smith encouraged service workers to file for unemployment so Ohio’s governor is aware of how many people are in need of benefits. Smith also said if the federal government is slow in their reaction to those in need, Council would consider making a donation to the Oxford Family Resource Center, which provides social services for low-income families.

“I’m publicly asking landlords right now to be patient with those that are out of work and to work with them,” Smith said. “If I start to see evictions in the next 60 days, I’m going to be asking a lot of questions.”

City staff was instructed to work from home beginning March 19, said Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene. This did  not include fire, police and public works, as it is essential they are on site at all times.

City buildings were closed on March 19. 

Greene said when she met with Miami University administrators on March 11, they discussed the risk of all Miami students being moved online but all other buildings remaining open. 

“There was fear that we were going to have public safety mayhem,” Greene said. “We were all just a bit nervous. So we really met and developed a plan for increased patrolled enforcement.”

Council encouraged social distancing throughout the Oxford community in order to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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“I think right now we’re just trying to shut things down,” Prytherch said. “I’ve seen, at least in my neighborhood, the students are having trouble complying, but I think most people in Oxford get it.”

There has been one confirmed case of coronavirus at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, but the patient is not an Oxford resident and has returned home to Indiana to self-isolate

Councilwoman Edna Southard said community members don’t have to solely rely on the government. They can help each other and check-in on neighbors, if they’re able. 

“Instead of sending an email, pick up the phone and call up your neighbor who might be elderly or sick or just lonely,” Southard said. 

City Council next meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7 in the Oxford Courthouse. All community members can stream the meeting from home.