Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement that more businesses can reopen should boost local economies as well as morale for some employees, but it’s a gamble that is necessary because so many people have been hurt, financially and emotionally during this deadly novel coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine’s long anticipated order will allow restaurants that were closed, salons and spas to resume business this month, but with some stipulations and best practices for the safety of workers and patrons.

This was bold, but necessary. DeWine had to reignite the state’s economy that has suffered the last eight weeks with people out of work and businesses not able to sell their wares and goods. At the same time, he must protect the health and safety of citizens.

DeWine is convinced that it is possible to live with COVID-19 as long as people practice social distancing, wear masks in public and wash their hands.

When the stay-at-home orders went into effect in mid-March, the purpose was to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly throughout the state.

Because Ohioans, for the most part, proved they could follow best practices, the state is reopening. Retail stores (opened) May 12, outdoor dining along with salons, barbershops and spas (restarted) their in-person operations May 15 and indoor dining can begin May 21.

Lorain County cities and industry groups are cautiously optimistic about the move, but excited for local businesses that will get some much needed relief. Ted Esborn, Avon Lake’s economic development director, was elated saying reopening is enormous news for the Avon Lake economy.

Esborn said businesses covered in the announcement now have what many have wanted most — a timeline, an answer to the question. But, he said, they will have to figure out how they will meet distancing, cleaning and sanitizing guidelines.

... DeWine’s recent orders on reopening dates come after state officials consulted with advisory boards with members from restaurants and beauty salons, submitting suggestions on best practices.

But the decision to reopen parts of the economy will take Ohio into uncharted waters. DeWine realizes this is a road that has danger signs on it and “we need to fully understand it.” It is a risk that likely will cause the state’s present one-to-one ratio of infected person to number of people infected to rise.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the ratio of infection was more than two-to-one; the reduction attributed to social distancing and other measures taken to curb community spread. But changes had to be made, and now is the time to do it. In mitigating the potential impact of reopening, DeWine said the state will continue to abide by industry best practices and hopes to continue to ramp up testing and tracing.

The state’s restaurant advisory board chaired by Treva Weaver issued a number of recommendations. Restaurant owners were asked to put together a floor plan to enable customers to abide by social distancing guidelines, post COVID-19 symptoms at entrances and asking businesses to self-monitor staff.

The recommendations did not make distinctions between bars and restaurants with Weaver stating the board was focused on the physical space. For salons, barbershops and spas, customers with appointments may be asked to remain in their vehicles while waiting to be seen, and establishments will remove self-serve beverages and reading material.

Professionals will wear face coverings and customers also will be asked to wear masks. If the current protocols aren’t adhered to, we’ll enter into more uncharted and not so calm waters.

Lorain Morning Journal

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