NORMAN — Mayor Breea Clark signed a proclamation Friday to increase business capacity to 100% for restaurants, bars and gyms effective May 1, a prepared statement from the city reads.

Organized indoor gatherings and indoor sporting events may also return to 100% capacity.

While the capacity restrictions are rolled back, face coverings, social distancing and cleaning measures are required through June 1, and the city is urging people and businesses to continue adhering to those health and safety procedures.

“It is encouraging to see the number of daily COVID cases in our city declining and the number of vaccinated residents steadily rise. We are ready to start moving out of this pandemic while also not losing the progress we’ve made to reduce the spread,” Clark said in a statement. “Please continue to wear face coverings in public and when around other people outside of your households, maintain social distancing, and keep washing your hands and cleaning surfaces. Norman has made tremendous strides to combat this pandemic, and we don’t want to lose the progress that we’ve made.”

Norman was the first city to impose business closures, capacity restrictions and a mask mandate in Oklahoma to mitigate the spread of the virus in early 2020. Businesses reopened at 50% capacity with social distancing required between tables, and changed their model to offer online sales and curbside pick-up or delivery, The Transcript reported.

On April 2, 2021, Clark increased capacity to 75%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released new guidelines that recommend vaccinated people enjoy outdoor activity, and in some cases indoor gatherings, unmasked.

Protocols that remain in effect through June 1 include masking in public spaces around people outside a person’s household and social distancing in businesses, and standing room areas will be closed. Cleaning high-touch surfaces with solutions that have been shown to be effective at eliminating or killing COVID-19 is still required. Audio and visual equipment is to be cleaned after each use, the statement reads.

Scott Martin, president and CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, said it’s clear the hard work businesses have put in is paying off.

“I think our businesses have shown that they are willing to go the extra mile to protect their customers and also their employees,” he said. “This is the right thing to do. While the economy is up, people are still suffering. So, the increased capacity no doubt will go a long way in helping restore many of the great financial losses that our businesses have experienced the last 12 months.”

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.

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