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Ohio Restaurant and Bar Group Pushes Back on Possibility DeWine Will Order Shutdown

Cleveland restaurant outdoor dining
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
A restaurant in downtown Cleveland has set up outdoor dining with plexiglass dividers and heat lamps.

More than 500,000 people work in Ohio’s bar and restaurant industry, which is pushing back on an announcement from Gov. Mike DeWine in his statewide address Wednesday that he would consider shutting down those establishments next week, if the state’s COVID-19 numbers don’t improve.

Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker said his members are on board with COVID rules and have embraced heightened enforcement, especially from liquor control.  

“If you've looked at what's going on, there have been a drumbeat of suspensions, fines and taking away licenses completely. And we have been 100% with the governor and with Public Safety on that," Barker said.

Barker noted medical experts said in DeWine’s press conference Monday that bars and restaurants are taking the rules seriously and that the spread is happening through social gatherings.

And Barker said with no relief bill in sight from Congress, and with so many businesses running short of revenue, restaurants and bars have shared their concerns in a flood of communications. 

“We've gotten somewhere in the hundreds and probably now over 1,000, quite honestly, emails, calls and texts from the restaurant community, across the board, they find this just completely unfair to even single out an industry to identify," Barker said.


Barker said his group will present ideas beyond a shutdown. Some of those coming from members include instituting fines or making arrests for not wearing masks and immediate closures for businesses not following COVID rules. 

On Thursday, Ohio recorded its 18th day of record hospitalizations for COVID, with 3,024 Ohioans in the hospital, taking up more than 11% of the state's hospital beds. Double the number of patients are in intensive care, 756, than two weeks weeks ago.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.