DeWine: Restaurants, bars to fully reopen May 21


By John Seewer and Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio bars and restaurants can fully reopen in two weeks, on May 21, with outside dining allowed a few days earlier, on May 15, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and day spas will also reopen May 15, the Republican governor said.

Barbers and stylists will wear masks, and customers will be asked to wear masks, said Debbie Penzone, president and CEO of Charles Penzone Salons and the chair of the salon and barbershop working group commissioned by the governor.

The reopening of eating establishments comes with limits, including parties of 10 or fewer and spacing between tables either by a barrier or 6 feet of distance.

Gatherings such as dances won’t be allowed in bars and restaurants’ open areas, with that space to be used for now to put extra distance between tables and customers, said Treva Weaver, a restaurant owner who worked on the reopening plan.

Working groups studying the next stage of reopening that were announced Thursday looked both at what is known about preventing the spread of the coronavirus and the needs of business owners, DeWine said.

“What we’re trying to marry is the science and the practicality of that profession and business,” DeWine said.

DeWine also warned that restarting Ohio’s economy also means coronavirus cases will rise. The process ahead is a marathon, not a sprint, he said.

“The more contacts that we have, the more that we do, the more risk there is,” the governor said.

In other coronavirus-related news Thursday:

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UNEMPLOYMENT:

More than 1.1 million people filed unemployment claims in the past seven weeks as Ohio’s stay-at-home order depressed the economy and led to widespread layoffs, the state reported Thursday.

For the week ending May 2, just over 61,000 people filed jobless claims, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That’s down from the nearly 100,000 claims filed the previous week.

The numbers announced Thursday pushed total unemployment claims during the pandemic to 1,118,569, or about 1,000 more than the total number of claims over the past three years. The state says it has now distributed more than $1.9 billion in unemployment checks to more than 536,000 claimants.

Nationally, nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began, forcing millions of employers to close their doors.

Meanwhile, some have criticized the state for its publication of a website that says employers can report employees “who quit or refuse work when it is available due to COVID-19.”

Fear of the virus is not a sufficient reason to refuse work, Kimberly Hall, Job and Family Services director, said this week. But the agency also looks at employment situations that are unsafe for workers.

That would include “that your work environment, the conditions there, are such that you’re at risk, and from a health and safety standard,” Hall said, according to WCPO-TV.

The state also offers a website at which employees can report unsafe conditions, said Job and Family Services spokesman Bret Crow.

He added: “It is our expectation that in most situations employers and employees will be able to work together to ensure a safe environment for employees to return to work.”

Many Ohioans are dealing with worries over workplaces having enough personal protective equipment, plus how they’re going to care for children with schools and day care centers closed, said Sen. Kenny Yuko of Cleveland, the top-ranking Senate Democrat.

“We should be coming together to support Ohio workers during this crisis, not finding new ways to make their lives more stressful,” he said in a statement Thursday.

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CASES

The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in the state has reached 1,271, state health officials said Thursday. The department noted more than 22,000 presumptive and confirmed cases of the virus, including just over 4,000 hospitalizations.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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By John Seewer and Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press