After threatening to shut down bars and restaurants in Norman for not complying with COVID-19 ordinances, Mayor Breea Clark is trying to find common ground with business owners.
Clark met with business owners virtually ahead of the city council meeting, asking them for recommendations on safely navigating the pandemic.
Owners said it has been difficult to comply with the ordinances and run a successful business.
"I can tell you from personal, the first week this occurred we were very much complying as best we could. Our patrons we were not discussing their wants and desires. And they voted with their feet, and our sales went to almost zero during that course of that week. So my question is, at what point does risk versus reward analysis come into the point?" said one local business owner.
"Oh my gosh, you're describing something I wrestle with; every decision I make with COVID-19," said Clark. "This has been very helpful. This conversation is not over. No decisions have been made, but I hope you can join me in keeping businesses open and our students here. There are no easy answers. This is an unprecedented situation. It's horrible, and I hate everything about it."
The meeting closed with the mayor apologizing for her recent statements.
"I do not want to fight about it, and I apologize if I had some statements in an emotional in a moment of duress that scared you. And that's all I have to say about that," said Clark.
News 9 received the following statement from Clark after the meeting:
"Today, myself and city staff met virtually with restaurant and store owners all around Norman to discuss how we can work together to stop the spread of the coronavirus in our community. Our numbers have finally been declining after the most recent surge, and I look forward to working with these businesses to keep that trend going. As a college town, we have a unique challenge that our population is about to grow by 20,000+ young people, and the smartest thing we can do is be proactive instead of waiting for another surge. No decisions about the next steps have been made at this time, and no decisions will be made without the input from city Council. I appreciate everyone who joined the call for taking the time and sharing their ideas and concerns with me. It is this kind of collaboration that will keep our community going strong as we continue to fight back against the coronavirus."