Oxford is following Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's plan to reopen, which began Monday, May 4. Phase one will include allowing manufacturing, distribution, general offices and construction to reopen.
Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene said Oxford will be following the governor's outline closely when deciding how Oxford will reopen.
Employees who work in the Oxford municipal building started returning to work in person on May 4.
“The biggest change is that we're going to ask our staff to wear face coverings if they're coming into the office to work and also working with the public,” Greene said.
On May 12, DeWine will allow retail businesses to begin opening and is emphasizing the use of facial coverings and social distancing when possible.
Greene said Oxford will be following that direction as well.
“The retail businesses that have not been able to be open at all are going to be anxious to do what it takes to get back open,” Oxford City Councilor David Prytherch said.
DeWine said in his press briefing Monday, May 4, there may be an increase in novel coronavirus cases as businesses resume operation.
"When you open up and you do more, naturally, you're going to see a spike in cases," DeWine said.
In DeWine's press briefing on April 24, he outlined his goal for increased testing for coronavirus. By May 27, he hopes to have 22,000 tests per day.
Oxford City Councilor Chantel Raghu said the possibility of increased cases of the coronavirus due the city reopening is not a problem that would be unique to Oxford.
“I think, especially when we do not have enough contact tracing or tests or an antibody tester treatment or vaccine, reopening right now does increase the risk of getting more infections,” Raghu said.
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If cases do begin to increase in Oxford, Raghu said the city will begin to take steps back on reopening.
Raghu said DeWine’s approach to limiting the spread of the coronavirus has shown great leadership. She believes he has made compliance easier across the state with his blanket approach to addressing the virus.
“It's just so helpful to have that blanket approach,” Raghu said. “We're all kind of working in this concerted effort to try to reduce as many cases as possible.”
City Manager Doug Elliott said City Council, boards and committee meetings will be held virtually through the month of May and will be reassessed at the end of the month.
Within the next few weeks, the city will begin discussing its plans for public parks, facilities and events, Greene said.
For the time being, public playground equipment, basketball hoops, swimming pools and other public facilities are still restricted, Elliott said.
“We're following the mandate of gatherings being 10 or less people, and [it’s] a little rough when you're playing basketball to be right up against someone touching them,” Elliott said.
Elliott said parks and trails will remain open for the community.
Raghu and Prytherch have both praised Oxford community members for their continued adherence to social distancing guidelines.
“The people of Oxford, for the most part, have taken it really seriously,” Raghu said. “They're trying their best for physical distance, and I think there are a lot of face masks out there, but I imagine there's gonna be a lot more.”