DeWine Says Strong Safety Needed Before Daycares Can Reopen

COLUMBUS, Ohio – With nearly 90% of the state’s economy reopening by tomorrow from a six-week shutdown because of coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine has postponed a decision on opening daycare centers, saying it is a moral imperative for Ohio to deliver a plan that ensures the safety of children, their families and child-care workers. 

“I know how important this is as we open Ohio back up. Child care is absolutely an essential part in people going back to work,” DeWine said in his daily press briefing. “Reopening childcare centers is simply too important to do so without making certain that we have all the best information, that we have all right protocols in place.”

Daycare centers have been closed since March 26, except for those with temporary pandemic licenses for a limited number of children of first responders and health care workers. While the state was aggressive in closing schools and daycares, DeWine said he wants a science-based and safety-based plan in place. 

A date to reopen child care will not be announced until safety protocols are in place and can be can be explained to caregivers and families. He emphasized rules need to focus on the safety of children and their families, but must include safety protocols to protect workers. The governor said that a team is working on the plan and an announcement is not far off.

“Child care is a necessity for working families. As I’ve said, there’s risks associated with action and also risks associated with inaction as we move forward. There may not be a more important decision that we make in regard to the safety of Ohioans as we move forward,” DeWine said.

Because Ohioans are returning to work and child care centers remain closed, the governor was asked if unemployment benefits will be extended for parents who are unable to place children in a safe setting. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said no one currently is being denied that benefit.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall said return to work guidelines that are in place are being evaluated, including looking at health and safety aspects. Extra layers of safety are in place because of COVID-19, but unemployment benefits are not being denied during the evaluation process. 

Other updates:

  • Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said new antibody testing has revealed a new date of onset of COVID-19 in Ohio to January as five people were positive for the virus in five different counties. Acton said as antibody testing picks up throughout Ohio, the state is searching for 1,200 volunteers for the testing for random sampling to learn more about the prevalence of the virus in Ohio. Random sampling will be done in both urban and rural areas. Local health departments will be contacting people for voluntary participation in the test. Acton said someone will come to a volunteer’s home and take a nasal swab and a blood test. 
  • Husted announced that meetings are taking place with industry leaders and health experts on protocols for reopening gyms, fitness and spa centers. When the group presents recommendations, the state will move forward. He says the reopening of this industry is more complex than other businesses because of maintaining social distancing and other safety measures and close proximity to personal trainers, classes and equipment, but the group is working recommendations.
  • DeWine reminded Ohioans of guidelines for reopening of retail and outdoor dining that face coverings are mandatory for most workers and businesses with some exceptions having to do with worker safety. It’s also up to individual businesses owners to decide whether customers must wear the masks inside their business.  
  • The Ohio Department of Commerce and Ohio Liquor Control Board will implement a $500 liquor rebate program so bar and restaurant owners can defray the cost of restocking high proof spiritous liquor.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.