by Dan McCaleb
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said the state could close bars, restaurants and fitness centers beginning Nov. 19 if the number of new coronavirus cases continues to rise.
“We have not made a final decision on that,” DeWine said of the threatened closures. “If things don’t change in a week, we will have to do this … we’re not trying to pick on bars and restaurants. It’s the last thing we want to do.”
Ohio on Thursday again set a daily record with 7,101 new coronavirus cases.
DeWine said restaurants, bars and gyms are COVID-19 breeding grounds, which is why they might be targeted for closure.
“It makes inside activities more difficult, more dangerous potentially,” DeWine said.
DeWine also issued new orders on mask enforcement at businesses, and shifted the authority over mask enforcement from the counties to the state. If a business receives more than one violation, it must close for 24 hours. Businesses also will be required to post “No Mask, No Service” signs and refuse service to customers who don’t comply.
In response, Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute, said a second shutdown would make matters worse.
“A second shutdown raises serious issues of enforcement, and would be absolutely devastating to businesses which are diligently following the rules, keeping their patrons safe, yet are hanging on by their financial fingernails,” Alt said in a statement. “Ohio would be better served to focus its limited resources on truly bad actors rather than crushing whole sectors of the economy.”
The Buckeye Institute noted that “more than 246,000 Ohioans who work at hotels, restaurants, and bars were out of work during the last shutdown, and there are still more than 100,000 fewer jobs in those industries compared to this time the previous year.”
The Ohio Restaurant Association has said that more than half of the state’s restaurants could close permanently if they are shut down again.
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