DeWine: More Entertainment Venues Can Reopen

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine announced casinos, racinos, amusement and water parks and outdoor theaters can reopen in two weeks, as long as they follow protective measures. 

He also announced an Ohio National Guardsman has been suspended and removed from service while the FBI investigates white supremacist posts the guardsman made prior to being deployed to Washington, D.C. to help with protesters over the death of George Floyd. 

“A member of the Ohio national guard was removed from the mission in Washington, D.C., after the FBI uncovered information that this guardsman expressed white supremacist ideology on the internet prior to the assignment,” DeWine said Friday. “This is an investigation that is being done, not by authorities in Ohio, but by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Following the FBI investigation and due process, it is highly likely that he will be permanently removed from National Guard.”

The governor said Ohio National Guard is cooperating, and stressed that guardsmen are put in a position of authority and the public must have trust in the guardsmen.

“While I fully support everyone’s right to free speech, guardsmen and women are sworn to protect all of us, regardless of race, ethnic background or religion,” DeWine said. “Our Ohio National Guard members are in a position of trust and authority during times of crisis, and anyone who displays a malice toward specific groups of Americans has no place in the Ohio National Guard.”

Ohio National Guard Adjunct Gen. John C. Harris Jr. will work with Ohio Department of Public Safety director Tom Stickrath to develop procedures to determine if guard members have ties to hate groups to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Addressing Ohio’s phased-in reopening plan to safely restart the economy, DeWine said several sector businesses and organizations have submitted “impressive and comprehensive” plans for approval to reopen. Plans were submitted last week and were reviewed. DeWine said plans will be given to local health departments.

He authorized the Memorial Golf Tournament to take place July 13 through 19. The PGA invitation-only event is hosted by Columbus-area native Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus. 

“In all of these cases, these sectors have come up with plans that reduce the number of people, provide for sanitation, and in some cases, provide for one-way traffic. They are elaborate plans that we believe are consistent with protecting the public,” the governor said.

Responding to a reporter’s question about other golf tournaments or events occurring, the governor said his administration is reviewing plans as quickly as possible. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said all groups are working from the same template to create safe reopening.

“There’s no reason that other tournaments can’t do the same thing. I’m optimistic about them being able to do it,” the governor said.

DeWine said the phased approach to reopening was to use best practices to make everything as safe as possible to reopen while monitoring results. Specifically, DeWine mentioned the Arnot, a measurement of how many people one person can infect. Ohio’s Arnot is now below one to one.

DeWine gave a straightforward address to critics who have suggested the state be able to open without restriction. 

“My answer to that in the midst of this pandemic makes absolutely no sense. In fact, with the virus still out there and with the virus still as contagious as it’s ever been, still very much alive, it would be on my behalf as your governor irresponsible to do that. It would not be the right thing to do. It would frankly, to do that, would be an abandonment of the duty I have as your governor and I don’t intend to do that.” 

He went on the explain that during this time of a pandemic that has killed  2,355 people, caution and good judgement are required of all Ohioans. He acknowledged that some people still argue that no standards or requirements are needed. 

“My answer to those who say that, with all due respect, is you have a right to make decisions that solely impact you. But once your actions start impacting other Ohioans to their serious determinant we have to draw back a little bit.”

With expanded testing criteria in which anyone can be tested who shows symptoms of COVID-19, DeWine has encouraged more pharmacists and retailers to begin testing. DeWine said he has spoken to retail executives this week and is hopeful that more sites will open at retailers like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Kroger. Testing also is being done at federally qualified health centers. Currently there are 40 testing sites.

Last week, the governor discussed health disparities among minorities, especially black Ohioans, and said further plans to address testing, social determinants of health and how to assist the state health improvement plan will be released next week. He also said a plan on police reform will also be addressed next week. DeWine is talking with the General Assembly about these plans.

“I’m committed to making tangible changes in police oversight, accreditation, training and accountability,” he said. “Our goal is to change and make improvements to the professionalism and profession. It truly is a profession. To make it a community that does not show at any time any problems connected with police conduct. The members of police departments whom I’ve known since I was an assistant county prosecutor 40 years ago are wonderful individuals, but we also know that occasionally someone slips in and we have to be ever vigilant in regard to that and we will be.”

Casinos, racinos, water parks and amusement parks can reopen June 19. On Thursday, Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and Kings Island filed suit against the Ohio Department of Health and its director, Dr. Amy Acton, arguing that she doesn’t have the authority to keep amusement parks and waterparks shut down, and that the order violates park owners’ rights. DeWine announced the reopening of tourist attractions like museums, zoos and entertainment venues, but didn’t mention amusement parks.

Day camps and residential camps may open at any time.  Entertainment venues listed below may open beginning June 10th if they are able to follow already established guidelines applicable to retail, consumer, service and entertainment. The venues include: 

  • Aquariums
  • Art galleries
  • Country clubs
  • Ice skating rinks
  • Indoor family entertainment centers
  • Indoor sports facilities
  • Laser tag facilities
  • Movie theaters (indoor)
  • Museums
  • Playgrounds (outdoor)
  • Public recreation centers
  • Roller skating rinks
  • Social clubs
  • Trampoline parks
  • Zoos

Industry-specific guidelines for such venues can be read HERE.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.