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Ohio Bars, Restaurants, Salons Will Start Reopening May 15

Dempsey's in Columbus.  [David Holm / WOSU]
Dempsey's in Columbus.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday unveiled dates and guidelines for reopening bars and restaurants, as well as barber shops, hair salons and other personal care businesses that have been closed for more than 50 days due to stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Barber shops, salons, spas and other similar businesses can open May 15.

Restaurants can open for outside dining May 15 and indoor dining on May 21.

Both groups have guidelines they must abide by, devised by industry-specific working groups comprised of experts and representatives from across the state.

Guidelines For Personal Care Services

Debbie Penzone, president and CEO of Charles Penzone Salons, led the working group for personal care business reopenings and said recommendations include:

  • Customers may have to wait in vehicles for appointments.
  • For walk-in appointments, patrons are advised to walk in alone, with exceptions for children and those who require a caregiver.
  • Magazines, product testing and self-service beverages will no longer be available.
  • Professionals will wear masks, and customers are asked to wear them as well.
  • Cleaning measures will increase, with additional measures on top the usual sanitization requirements.

Guidelines For Bars And Restaurants

Treva Weaver, COO of N. Wasserstrom and owner of Zoup! Eatery, shared her group's recommendations, including:

  • Restaurants and bars are asked to create a floor plan that complies with social distancing guidelines.
  • Parties can be seated in groups of 10 or less.
  • Each party must be separated by either six feet or a physical barrier, such as a high booth back or plexiglass.
  • Customers may be asked to wait in cars until seating is available or there may be a designated area for queuing.
  • Buffets will no longer be self-service and instead served directly to the customer.
  • Restaurants will display a list of COVID-19 symptoms for the public to self-monitor and ensure compliance before entering an establishment.
  • Employees in certain positions will be required to wear masks, with exceptions that mostly apply to back of house staff, due to safety concerns.
  • Likewise, some but not all employees will be required to wear gloves; patrons are unlikely to see gloves on cashiers or servers.
  • Restaurant owners can ask customers to wear masks.
  • Handwashing will continue as the “gold standard” precaution.

Open congregating areas of restaurants and bars will remain closed during the first phase.

"But you can certainly repurpose that," Weaver said. "If you have a dance floor or other activity space, you can use that to be able to maintain that six-foot distance of your tables."

All of the guidelines "will be strictly enforced," said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, adding that these industries in particular are accustomed to being regulated and following strict guidelines.


Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio

DeWine, meanwhile, acknowledged that as these businesses open up, risks increase.

"A lot of this depends on what we do," he said. "…It is so very important to continue social distancing. It is important when possible to wear a mask. This is a gamble… It really is in our hands."