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Norman City Council votes to require 75 percent maximum occupancy in restaurants, bars on home game days

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Norman City Council Meeting 9/8/20

The Norman City Council meeting streamed live on YouTube Sept. 8.

The Norman City Council met virtually Tuesday evening to fill the vacant Ward 5 councilmember position and vote to require all restaurants, bars, bar areas and outdoor patios to limit their occupant load 75 percent on home game days. 

The council voted to approve an amendment to the city code that already required restaurant dining areas and bars to arrange their tables to promote social distancing and to close standing-room-only bar areas.

The amendment to the ordinance was originally written to reduce the occupant load of the businesses by 50 percent at all times until 2 a.m. the morning after a game day but was amended to limit it to 75 percent after discussion from the council. 

Ward 8 councilmember Matthew Peacock moved to amend the ordinance to allow businesses to increase their occupant load above 50 percent if they were able to “get creative” and arrange tables to promote distancing. 

Ward 3 councilmember Alison Petrone suggested the amendment allow for 50 percent occupancy indoors and 75 percent outdoors.

Mayor Breea Clark then suggested the limit be placed at 75 percent for both indoor and outdoor areas.

Ward 1 councilmember Kate Bierman expressed concern over the amendment, saying it moves the ordinance in the wrong direction.Bierman said she would have preferred to start out with a 50 percent capacity for the first game and, depending on the game’s impact on COVID-19 cases, possibly increase that to 75 percent for the next home game.

The amendment to the ordinance was passed with a 7-1 vote. Bierman was the only member to vote against the amendment. 

The council voted to approve an emergency declaration due to the COVID-19 pandemic after recently recording its largest single-day increase in cases since April.

The council appointed Michael Nash as the interim Ward 5 councilmember following the resignation of councilmember Sereta Wilson. Nash took the oath of office and was seated as the councilmember-elect. 

The council also adopted a resolution to prohibit the distribution or sale for public consumption of intoxicating or alcoholic beverages at any public park or recreational facility in the city of Norman. 

This resolution does not include the Firehouse Arts Station, The Historical Museum, the Sooner Theatre, Westwood Park, the Santa Fe Depot, Legacy Park, Reaves Park, Andrews Park or Lions Park.

Clark made two proclamations at the meeting. The first designates Sept. 15, 2020, through Oct. 15, 2020, as Hispanic Heritage Month, and the second designates Sept. 2020 as Pain Awareness Month for the city. 

The council also appointed Ward 4 councilmember Lee Hall to the Board of Trustees for the City of Norman retirement system as the council’s representative. 

The council accepted an emergency solutions grant from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to operate a warming shelter to be used by the homeless during the winter. 

The council also accepted a grant from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office for the Norman Police Department to conduct high-visibility enforcement, saturation patrols, information and education campaigns directed towards traffic safety and participation in OHSO mobilizations. 

senior news reporter

Jordan Hayden is a journalism junior and a senior news reporter at The Daily. Previously she served as the fall 2018 and spring 2019 assistant engagement editor.

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