Huffman to DeWine: Re-open commerce

By Sam Shriver - [email protected]

LIMA — Many area businesses have been affected adversely by the new coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Mike DeWine closed restaurants’ dining rooms, and a stay-at-home order is place until at least May 1.

John Heaphy, president of Good Food Restaurants, has seen business drop off dramatically.

“I’ve got 14 restaurants and four are closed,” Heaphy said. “The Happy Daz restaurants, you know, with our drive-thrus, we’ve always done more takeout than sit down. So the Happy Daz stores are running about 70% of volume. The Beer Barrels that are open — we’ve had tremendous support from the community, honestly, and our takeout businesses is brisk, but still only about 40% of normal sales.”

Matt Huffman, Republican state senator who represents Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties and parts of Auglaize, Dark and Logan counties, has written a letter to DeWine encouraging him to consider opening up some commerce.

Huffman wrote:

“Since the outset of the coronavirus, less densely populated areas of the state have not been affected in the same way as the rest of the state. Many counties have had very few or no cases of COVID-19. Also, of those who have been hospitalized, many had already suffered from other severe chronic health situations.

“Although I’m sure you are aware, I think it must be stated that many small business owners have no income while closed. Many employees who go on unemployment will be receiving more money from the state and federal unemployment benefits than they were while working.

“Additionally, those working in most positions in government, by and large, continue to receive their paychecks.

“Please consider lifting the ban on a date-specific and as soon as possible for businesses in West Central Ohio.”

Huffman said Saturday he recognizes all businesses have their own unique circumstances.

“I’ve talked to a lot of businesses around here and it may be businesses can open in Mercer County or Putnam County but not necessarily Allen County on the same day. You can have restrictions on if you’re going to open a restaurant about how many people can go in and people wearing masks and things like that,” Huffman said.

State Rep. Bob Cupp, R-Lima, also sees merit in Huffman’s suggestion.

“In Ohio, it should be a county by county or community by community assessment but I think we’re just in the early stages of sort of planning how we develop a plan to do that. I think the barrier here is the fact that we don’t really have good data on how many people might have the virus that don’t show symptoms. It’s a big unknown because testing is still very limited,” Cupp said.

Huffman’s letter is available at

By Sam Shriver

[email protected]

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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