As sales slowly improve, Ohio’s restaurants and bars now face another issue that threatens ongoing COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts: lack of employees.
Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker believes the intentions behind continued federal and state stimulus benefits are good, but a consequence is a lack of available employees as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions and customer traffic increases.
“Unemployment is an issue. There’s no question about it,” Barker said. “The intention by the government, both at the federal and state level, was to take care of people who are displaced and very much in need. It was the right thing to do. The problem we have now is these are looking like they’re going to be extended all the way through the fall. On top of that, people are getting big stimulus checks. And in some cases, they may be making more money staying at home than going back to work. And so, it’s a combination of factors.”
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.”
The Daily Caller reports, New York City could see up to half its restaurants and bars close permanently in the next six months because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new audit released Thursday from the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
“New York City’s bars and restaurants are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances and many eateries operate on tight margins. Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever,” DiNapoli said, according to an official statement.
Ohio restaurant and bar owners will have more flexibility and a chance to generate more revenue if Gov. Mike DeWine signs a recently passed bill into law.
The Business Expansion and Safety Act, passed by both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, heads to DeWine. It intends to help bring revenue and safety back to businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to bill sponsor State Rep. D.J. Swearingen, R-Huron.
When Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced at a July 2 press conference that he was shutting down all the city’s bars for 14 days, reducing restaurant capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent, and temporarily closing event venues and entertainment venues, all due to “record” cases of COVID-19 traceable to restaurants and bars, he apparently knew that his own Metro Health Department said less than two dozen cases of COVID-19 could be traced to those establishments. But he failed to disclose that the “record” of bar and restaurant traceable cases to which he referred to was about one tenth of one percent of Davidson County’s 20,000 cases of COVID-19.
The coronavirus is shaking up America’s liquor laws.
At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are temporarily allowing cocktails to-go during the pandemic. Only two — Florida and Mississippi — allowed them on a limited basis before coronavirus struck, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Ohioans waiting to go to bars, eat at restaurants, get their hair cut, or nails done will not have to wait much longer, as Gov. Mike DeWine announced that next Friday these businesses will open in some capacity.
“Reopening Ohio is a risk, but it’s also a risk if you don’t move forward. We’re on a dangerous road that has never been traveled before in Ohio and the danger is that we relax and stop taking precautions,” DeWine said. “All of us collectively control this. I ask you to take calculated risks and make good judgments. Continue social distancing, washing your hands, and wearing face coverings. If you aren’t concerned with what happens to you, do it for others.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he is forming a pair of advisory groups tasked with developing best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants, barbershops and salons.
The group will develop recommendations to protect the health of employees and customers as businesses reopen. It will be comprised of relevant business associations, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford; Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina; House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron; and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.