Highland County Fairboard President Mark Baldwin said it is to early to tell what the 2020 county fair will look like after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday afternoon that county and independent fairs with an opening day on or after July 31 will be limited to specific junior fair events.
“I think right now everybody has lots of questions and we don’t have the answer,” said Baldwin, who was farming when he was contacted by The Times-Gazette and had not yet heard the governor’s announcement. “We’ll try to do whatever we can for the community, but right now it’s too early to tell what that will be.”
Junior fair activities such as livestock competitions and 4-H and FFA competitions for kids and teenagers can continue as planned, the governor said, but junior fairs must develop a plan that reduces crowding in barns, such as limiting entrance to only the immediate family of those actively showing their animals or projects.
DeWine said a 10 p.m. curfew will also be instituted for the barns, buildings and midways.
This year’s Highland County Fair is currently scheduled for Sept. 6-12.
“We’ve seen several fairs that have been doing an excellent job to keep fair-goers safe, yet other fairs have been connected to outbreaks; some have disregarded social distancing; and we’ve also seen a lack of enforcement of the statewide mask order. It’s just a real shame,” DeWine said in a news release. “Because it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot have a regular, safe fair in the summer of 2020, I believe we must now scale fairs back.”
Harness racing can proceed with no spectators, but rides, games and grandstand events will be prohibited to limit crowds and better prevent coronavirus spread, the news release said.
In other COVID-related news, DeWine said that child care providers in Ohio can return to their normal, statutory ratios and class sizes beginning on Aug. 9, 2020.
Child care providers have a choice to increase the number of children and staff members to the normal statutory ratios or to maintain their current, lower ratios to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJGS) is structuring a financial incentive to providers that maintain smaller ratios and classroom sizes.
“Children cannot learn unless they are safe and cared for, and without access to child care, parents may resort to less-than-ideal options for their child’s care, such as relying on an elderly grandparent who is at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. By allowing normal ratios to resume, we’re giving parents more options,” DeWine said. “We will continue to closely monitor reports of COVID-19 in child care, as well as compliance with rules and best practices, so that we can respond as needed to keep our children, families and teachers safe.”
All child care providers must comply with stringent health and safety requirements including:
* Face coverings for all staff and children over 10, unless they have a health exemption;
* Symptom and temperature checks when staff and children arrive;
* Washing hands throughout the day, including upon arrival and before departure;
* Frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces; and
* Regular deep cleanings.
Additionally, providers must report any COVID-19 cases to ODJFS and their local health department.
According to the news release, there are 86,497 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,382 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 10,425 people have been hospitalized, including 2,488 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.