Gov. Mike DeWine, in his Monday afternoon news conference, said 90 percent of Ohio’s economy would be open for business when phase three of his plan begins Tuesday.
But the green light for consumer, retail services and businesses to open their doors comes with a flashing caution light list of guidelines designed to curb any further spread of COVID-19.
In order to re-open, employees and customers alike must maintain the now-familiar 6 feet of social distancing and in some instances, employees are required to wear face coverings and the business itself must specify hours for at-risk populations.
Customers and visitors, though not required by law to wear facial coverings, are only encouraged to do so unless the business has a posted policy of requiring mask usage by customers.
On Friday, the long-awaited decision to allow bars and restaurants to re-open takes effect, first with outdoor dining being permitted, and indoor dining allowed effective Thursday, May 21.
But as with Tuesday’s openings, Friday’s comes with its own set of rules that will affect both employees and customers.
The state mandate dictates that a maximum of 10 people may sit together at restaurants and bars, with a minimum of six feet being kept between parties when dining and waiting on a table.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) led a bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers in calling for increased flexibility for local restaurants in utilizing federal emergency aid funds to stay open. He recommended fine-tuning those aid programs to ensure that restaurants can stay afloat during the pandemic restrictions.
Wenstrup’s comments weren’t lost on John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, who said “Without these changes, more Ohio restaurants will not survive this crisis and those that do will struggle for much longer, lengthening this economic crisis and significantly lowering our ability to offer the wide spectrum of jobs available in our industry.”
Also Friday, personal services like hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, day spas and tanning facilities have been given the OK to reopen with stipulations for appointments and walk-ins.
Customers with appointments may have to wait in their car until their appointment is ready, whereas for walk-ins, the rules specify that only the customer should enter unless they have a caregiver.
The state has also decreed that all workers will have face coverings, with customers also encouraged to wear them. Customers can be denied service if the establishment has a posted policy where a face mask is required.
No opening date has yet been set for gyms, recreation centers, bowling alleys, movie theaters, public pools and campgrounds.
Other items still up for discussion include sporting events and other mass gatherings, and restrictions on travel to other states.
DeWine held off on making a decision on re-opening day care centers until the safety of both children and child care workers can be assured.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.