Restaurants, Salons to Reopen Beginning May 15

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Barber shops and salons will be able to reopen May 15, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday during his daily press briefing at the statehouse. Restaurants and bars, meanwhile, will be able to reopen the same day for outdoor dining and indoor dining May 21.

“Both of these areas, restaurants and bars, are already highly regulated by the state of Ohio. The same is true in hair salons and barber shops,” DeWine said. “How we open up is so very, very important. The how is an essential part of how successful we’ll be in doing these things.”

Industry-specific guidelines for salons and barbers in Ohio can be read here, while guidelines for restaurants can be read here.

Restaurants that reopen can accommodate 10-person groups, with either six feet or physical separation between each group, rather than following the 50% capacity limit in place for other businesses.

“You may have a high booth back, which serves almost like a wall, or plexiglass installed. We want to give each owner the opportunity to comply with those constraints in their own unique space,” said Treva Weaver a member of the state’s restaurant industry working group and owner of Zoup! Eatery.

Restaurants will also have to post flyers displaying the symptoms of COVID-19 on their doors.

“There will be a list of COVID-19 symptoms and we’ll ask the public to comply with that list and stay home if you have any symptoms,” she said. “While employees will be required to wear masks, there are exemptions – mostly in back of house. You don’t want someone working over a hot grill wearing a mask. As a guest, you may be asked to wear a mask. That will be at the discretion of the owner.”

Open congregate areas will remain closed, Weaver added.

“We’ll monitor compliance through this. If you have a dancefloor or other open space, you can use that to meet social distancing guidelines,” she said.

No distinction has been made between bars and restaurants, she added. Any such establishment that can meet the spacing guidelines can open for outdoor eating May 15 and indoor dining May 21.

“If you’re a bar with tables and chairs, you can follow these guidelines, so why wouldn’t you be able to participate in phase one?” she said. “We’re not making a distinction between bars and restaurants, but a distinction because of space. If you can comply with these guidelines, you can participate.”

For salons and barber shops, it’s recommended that they limit themselves to one client inside at a time.

“For the appointments, you might have to wait in your car until it’s time for your appointment,” said Debbie Penzone, owner of Charles Penzone Inc., a Columbus area salon. “We’ll also ask that the appointment is the only person who enters the facility, unless it’s a parent with a child or if they need a caregiver with them.” 

Such businesses must also adhere to social distancing guidelines, she added. With the industry already heavily regulated by the state, it won’t be difficult for barbers and salons to comply with sanitations measures.

Once the two fields reopen next week, 92% of Ohio’s economy will be open again, said. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

“Employers are going to be calling people back to work, at least some of them will be. Every business now has stronger health and safety requirements than just a few weeks ago,” he said. “They’ve embraced that because they know have to keep employees safe and build consumer confidence.”

On Monday, DeWine said, he’ll have an announcement regarding the status of child-care businesses.

With Ohio at or near the peak of COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths, both DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton acknowledged the need for continued safety measures even as the vast majority of businesses are once again open. The implementation of safety measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks have reduced the average number of people a person with COVID-19 infects to one, down from 2.3 at the beginning of Ohio’s outbreak.

“These are very difficult decisions to make. I was on the phone last night with the surrounding states and I’ve talked to peers across the country. There’s not a state or country that’s not struggling with these decisions,” Acton said. “We have to learn to live with this virus. We’ll take steps as cautiously as we can. So much will be up to how we do this together.”

DeWine added that the measures already put in place establish a good foundation for businesses to reopen.

“I think that we’ve done everything we can to set things up for the workplace. When we set these practices for businesses, we don’t eliminate risk, but what we can assure employees and customers is that everything’s been done that can be done,” he said. “What I have a bigger concern about is what we do the other 16 hours a day. That responsibility lies with each and every one of us.”

As other states reopen their state to large gatherings – a reporter at the press conference specifically noted Indiana allowing events with more than 100 people – DeWine said what’s done in Ohio is always subject to change, but for now the 10-person limit will remain in place.

“We know big gatherings will have a significant impact on the spread. We’re not going to do that at this time,” he said, noting that as summer gets closer and outdoor activities become more feasible, such activities will be considered in the decision-making process.

The state does expect a few “bumps” in the number of cases over the summer months, but the governor said steps must be taken to reopen the economy.

“I don’t think many people think we can have the economy totally shut down for a year. The economic and health consequences would be astronomical,” he said. “It’s a risk, but it’s also a risk if we don’t do anything. We have to move forward but the questions is how we move forward. Everyone has to comply.”

DeWine also addressed a bill passed by the Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday that would curb the power of the Director of Health to issue orders, saying he would veto the bill if passes the Ohio Senate and arrives on his desk.

“The essence of this law has been on the books for 100 years. Legislatures have looked at it and changed it some, so it’s not a law that’s been ignored,” DeWine said. “We’re in the middle of an emergency now, an emergency we haven’t faced in 102 years. I can’t see why anyone thinks this is the time to put in a law and take away power from the executive branch. Health is a traditional issue that the executive branch and governor deal with. As long as I’m governor, I intend to keep my oath and deal with those problems.”

The bill would also limit the state’s response to small-scale health emergencies, such as an E. Coli outbreak or medical centers not following proper procedures.

“The nature of a health emergency is it takes quick action. This bill would strip the power of the government to take this quick action. Under this House bill, once an order is issued, if [the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review] didn’t take any action, then the order would go away in14 days,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.