by J. D. Davidson
A second business shutdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be more harmful than helpful, according to a Central Ohio think tank.
The Buckeye Institute, responding to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s new orders as record COVID-19 cases cover the state, believes persuading businesses, rather than penalizing them, would be more beneficial.
“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,” said Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute.
“The Buckeye Institute appreciates Gov. DeWine’s genuine concern for the safety of all Ohioans, however, a second shutdown is the wrong cure for this disease. The remedy for Ohio is moral suasion not criminal sanctions. Ohio would be better served to focus its limited resources on truly bad actors rather than crushing whole sectors of the economy.”
Last week, DeWine addressed the state with new orders requiring retail businesses to post mask requirements, enforce masks for all employees and customers, and stronger rules for restaurants and bars, as well as social gatherings.
He also created a task force through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation that will monitor businesses. The first violation would be a warning. The second could shut a business down for up to 24 hours.
He left open the possibility of closing restaurants and bars, as well as other retail establishments soon if the state doesn’t see a decline in virus cases.
Alt said legal challenges could come if a second shutdown order is issued. He said Ohio courts – as well as those around the country – have held that shutdown orders that are “arbitrary, unreasonable or lack procedural safeguards can violate state or federal constitutions.”
Another shutdown, according to Alt, would be particularly harmful to Ohio’s hotels, restaurants and bars, which employ nearly 250,000 people. He said another shutdown would push the state’s unemployment rate to 11%, and a two-week shutdown would cost an average employee in the leisure and hospitality sector almost $1,000 in lost earnings.
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J.D. Davidson is Regional Editor for The Center Square and a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.