NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) –After both the US Attorney General Tim Downing and the Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter urged Norman Mayor Breea Clark to reopen, Clark is now amending her ‘Healthier at Home’ proclamation.
Late Friday night, Clark posted a video to Facebook, telling citizens her intentions were always to protect lives, not infringe on rights.
Friday, the U.S. Attorney General told KFOR that by forcing churches to remain closed while allowing other businesses to open, Clark could be in breach of constitutional rights.
“There is no pandemic exception to our constitution or the bill of rights,” said Downing.
Clark’s ‘Healthier at Home’ initiative includes three phases.
In the first round of re-openings, gyms, restaurants and retail stores were all allowed to resume business.
Unlike state and federal guidelines, churches were left off the list, initially expected to wait until May 15.
“We’ve had generations of military who have fought and died for these freedoms, and so it’s so precious that even in the time of a pandemic, we’re respecting these constitutional rights,” said Downing.
The Rev. David Spain, the lead minister at the First Christian Church of Norman, says he appreciates Mayor Clark’s original proclamation keeping churches closed.
“She has certainly, I think, done a very courageous job in leading. It’s just not safe to open,” said Spain.
He says his church’s doors will remain closed for Mother’s Day and through at least the end of May.
“Of course it’s a loss, but I think the greater loss would be to risk people’s lives,” he said.
Clark never responded to KFOR’s requests for an interview regarding the matter, but in her Facebook video said she will not feud with the federal government.
Under her new amendment, she says places of worship and other entertainment venues with similar crowds are now allowed to open.
Clark issued the following statement Friday night:
“We have consistently made data driven decisions supported by medical professionals that have helped us to lead the way and set the bar for how to handle a pandemic in our state. None of the decisions made to date were to hurt business or to infringe on rights; they were to protect people. And what we are doing is working. Although our restriction on in-person services for places of worship has been consistent with both our restriction on comparable mass gathering venues and identical restrictions on in-person services by the State’s earlier proclamations, I will not spend years feuding with the federal government over one week. I love this country with every ounce of my being and I love this City. I encourage our residents to wear masks and make smart decisions for their health and the health of others.”Norman Mayor Breea Clark
Phase two reopenings are still on track for Friday, May 15.