SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and Kings Island have sued the director of the Ohio Department of Health, arguing that she doesn’t have the authority to keep the state’s amusement parks and waterparks shut down.
The suits were filed late Thursday, the same day Gov. Mike DeWine announced plans to reopen numerous tourist attractions in Ohio, including zoos and museums, but declined to say when Cedar Point, Kings Island and Kalahari would be able to welcome guests again.
The original suits were filed by Kings Island in Mason and Kalahari, a large waterpark resort in Sandusky. Cedar Point and parent company Cedar Fair were added to the the suits Friday morning, according to lawyer Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a conservative advocacy organization that brought the lawsuit.
The lawsuits argue that Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, has exceeded her authority and is violating the rights of the parks by keeping them closed.
“The Ohio Constitution’s protections apply to all, including those businesses that the state’s highest public officials view as non-essential,” said Thompson. “The governor and his health director must end their hyperbolic and unconstitutional assault on Ohioans’ businesses and traditions. We and our clients remain committed to ensuring that these arbitrary policies never again recur.”
In mid-March, DeWine shuttered most Ohio businesses in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus. In recent weeks, he has gradually reopened most business in the state.
DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said Thursday that amusement parks and water parks would be among the last to reopen in Ohio. “The fact is these are businesses that rely on large gatherings. We know large gatherings are the type of places where this virus can spread,” he said.
Thompson pointed out that swimming pools have been allowed to reopen, as well as other venues with large gatherings.