Banquet Halls Open June 1; New Tools Look at Racial Disparities

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Banquet and catering receptions can resume June 1 with a limitation of 300 people, and must ensure social distancing and follow the same safety guidelines as restaurants, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced Thursday.

During Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily briefing, Husted said weddings and funerals never fell under the state’s mandate for crowd limitations, but were recommended that safety guidelines and social distancing be followed.

“We recognize weddings and events are important in peoples’ lives and they should go on. We recognize you want to go on with life, but these guidelines will allow you to do that as safely as possible,” Husted said. 

Husted also said high school sports programs can begin skills and strength training for contact sports on May 26, but made it clear no scrimmages, contact training or competition can take place. The state’s work group partnered with the Ohio High School Athletic Association on protocols to allow all sports to expand skills training by opening school facilities for these activities. He said guidelines on whether to open schools will be up to local school districts and their rules of operation.

There has been no decision on whether fall sports will occur and plans for schools to open in the fall still are being discussed. Weight training, agility and other drills to prepare for contact sports like football, basketball and lacrosse can begin as long as safety protocols are followed.

“Many student athletes are concerned about preparation for summer training for next school year. And sports and plans for the school year in the fall are still being discussed. We do know skills training and conditioning for student athletes is important to start now, because proper training and conditioning are not only essential for skill development, but they can also reduce their chance for injury,” he said.

Along with gyms, recreation and fitness centers opening May 26, Husted said bowling alleys, miniature golf and batting facilities will also open along with league competition for non-contact sports. All activities must follow safety protocols, which are listed on the state’s website. He pointed out the guidance for bowling alleys will be posted Friday.

DeWine also gave a preliminary report on race disparity that is affecting minority populations in Ohio, especially concerning COVID-19, the disease spread by coronavirus. He said more testing will be available through federally-funded community health clinics.

He said he doesn’t want a zip code to determine how long and how well Ohioans live. He added that racial disparities unique to COVID-19 have pulled back the curtain on these health inequities on African American, Hispanic and other minority communities.

DeWine said two interactive tools have been added to the state’s website relating to COVID-19 data. One shows how COVID-19 has impacted minority populations by county by cases, hospitalizations and testing.

The second is a race index map by county that lists health index for transportation, education and access to health care. The higher the index determines the community’s ability to thrive.

A new position is being created in the state’s department of health to tackle issues of why and how these inequities are happening and determine what action to take. The person will report directly to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.