Mayor Will Joyce announced today that the current “shelter in place” order in effect for the City of Stillwater will be permitted to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2020. On May 1, 2020, those types of businesses identified in Phase One of Governor Kevin Stitt’s “Open Up, Remain Safe” (OURS) Program will be permitted to open under guidelines and regulations established by the City in a new proclamation that will be issued early next week.
Mayor Joyce, like his peers in other Oklahoma cities, expressed reservations about the timing of relaxing social distancing requirements, especially given the continued absence of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. “As Mayor Bynum noted, Tulsa and other areas of the state are not seeing consistent declines, but with other communities resuming these activities, the public health benefit of our current measures will be effectively nullified. Without a clear benefit to public health, it would be unfair to require Stillwater businesses to stay closed while similar enterprises in other cities were allowed to open.”
According to current data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Stillwater and the Payne County meet the “gating criteria” established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for decline in the reporting of new cases over the past fourteen days. Stillwater Medical Center has indicated that it can currently treat patients without crisis care, and local testing resources are able to keep up with current demand. “Stillwater residents have done a great job of helping us flatten the curve locally and to protect our medical system from an overwhelming surge,” said Mayor Joyce, “Oklahoma State University’s quick decision-making also contributed significantly to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Stillwater to date.”
Mayor Joyce stressed that COVID-19 has not gone away and as these restrictions are relaxed, it will be even more important for residents to be vigilant in their efforts to protect themselves and others from the spread of this deadly virus. “We are continually monitoring the data, and if there are indications of a sharp increase in cases or hospitalizations, we will again act quickly to intervene as necessary,” he stated. One key factor to eradicating COVID-19 is the wearing of face coverings whenever in public or when social distancing is not possible. The Mayor noted that the upcoming proclamation establishing guidelines and regulations for businesses and gatherings will stress the availability and wearing of masks in public situations as a condition of re-opening. Read more about the City’s encouragement of wearing face coverings at http://stillwater.org/news/view/id/558
Those businesses and other entities planning to re-open on May 1 with the expiration of the current shelter-in-place order should watch for the upcoming proclamation. In the interim, the Mayor recommends that the Oklahoma Department of Health guidelines issued this week for personal service entities and state guidelines for retail businesses be consulted and followed by those businesses intending to re-open. These documents are available at: https://www.okcommerce.gov/covid19/ours-plan/