COLUMBUS, Ohio — As he announced the reopening timetable Thursday for restaurants, bars, barbershops and salons, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine urged even Ohioans who may feel the coronavirus isn’t affecting them to keep adhering to state restrictions.
DeWine said young people and those in rural areas may be tempted to ease up, but that could lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases and a re-shuttering of businesses down the road.
Health Director Dr. Amy Acton likened a mask to “a high-five sign that we care about each other and we’re protecting each other.”
Ohio bars and restaurants can fully reopen in two weeks, on May 21, with outside dining allowed a few days earlier, on May 15, DeWine announced.
Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and day spas will also reopen May 15, he 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.
The governor warned that restarting Ohio’s economy will mean coronavirus cases do 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.
But he said continuing to wear masks, practice social distancing and use good judgment will continue to save lives.
DeWine criticized the Ohio House for passing a bill Wednesday to limit Acton’s power to issue emergency orders and reiterated his commitment to vetoing it.
He said the 102-year-old law under which the administration’s orders have been issued allows the executive branch to act quickly in various circumstances, including when Legionnaire’s disease breaks out in a hospital, when e. Coli strikes a food-processing plant or when there’s a radiation scare.
He said the bill’s language also would allow future orders reopening the state to be challenged in court.
“If this bill ever became law, it would be nothing but chaos, so I don’t understand it,” he said.