OXFORD, Miss. — COVID-19 restrictions in Mississippi came to an end Wednesday, after Gov. Tate Reeves announced the rollback Tuesday, effectively ending mask requirements in the state.
In Oxford, bar and restaurant owners are ready to get back to full capacity. Restaurants and bars can now serve alcohol until 1 a.m.
“It allows us to finally be able to give these employees the hours they need to make their rent and their living,” said David Moore, operations manager at The Blind Pig Pub and Deli in Oxford.
He’s glad to see COVID-19 restrictions ended for businesses like his, but also says reaction has been mixed. Some people are thrilled to death with the rules getting back to normal.
“Whether or not they feel a danger or not, they’re definitely over being restricted,” Moore said.
The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted 7-0 Tuesday to side with Reeves’ executive order that ends mask and capacity restrictions, with a few exceptions.
“Masks are no longer a requirement, other than at K-12 schools and at businesses are at 100 percent opening,” said Jason Bailey, mayor pro-tem and Ward VI alderman. “Outdoor stadiums are at 100 percent capacity and indoor arenas are 50 percent capacity.”
Most people we talked with in Oxford are glad to see restrictions coming to an end.
“We can wear a mask if we choose to, we don’t have to wear a mask if we don’t want to,” said John Strange. “It’s been a yearlong lockup, and so having the ability to make a decision on your own is really liberating.”
Business owners will still have the final say on whether they want to continue mask or capacity requirements.
“Hopefully some of these small businesses can get their doors back open and get some people back in and get things a little more back to normal,” Allen Kimbrell said.
Oxford police say they won’t tolerate people berating businesses for their decisions.
They say even though there is no occupancy limit on residential gatherings, they discourage large house parties and will enforce noise violations.
At the University of Mississippi, Chancellor Glenn Boyce sent a letter to students, faculty and staff saying masks will be required for the rest of the spring semester in classrooms, offices and public spaces on campus.
“In outdoor areas of campus, social distancing of at least six feet continues to be strongly recommended as well as wearing a mask when you cannot maintain distance unless the protocols for the outdoor venue differ,” the letter said.