COLUMBUS — With coronavirus cases still on the rise, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked for help from the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.
During his Thursday press briefing, DeWine implored the commission to enact an emergency rule shutting off liquor sales in all Ohio bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., while allowing consumption of liquor already served until 11 p.m. The commission was scheduled to meet Friday morning and DeWine said if it did pass an emergency rule, he would sign an order making it effective Friday.
“Most of you (bar owners) are doing a phenomenal job following the directions,” DeWine said. “Sadly not every bar is doing that. But we have to slow the spread of the virus and we have to slow it down across the State of Ohio. We believe stopping the sales at 10 o’clock is going to help. It will help thin that crowd out and help slow the spread.”
Bars and restaurants will be able to continue to serve food per their normal operating hours. The order would also allow restaurants to increase the number of carry-out alcoholic drinks with meals from two to three.
While DeWine said bars have an inherent problem because they lend themselves to people going in and out and people being in close contact with each other, shutting such establishments down again would be “devastating to them.”
“I’m mindful of the economic impact this has,” he said.
DeWine also announced a new order that contains all previous recommendations for mass gatherings in one place.
— Gatherings at a residence should be limited to close friends/family and should be limited to 10 visitors or less.
— Masks should be worn at all times at gatherings and physical distancing should be maintained.
— Indoor and outdoor dining and take out should be done when strict social distancing can be maintained.
— Extra precautions should be taken at bars and nightclubs.
— Masks should be worn and social distancing should take place at home if there are high-risk individuals there.
— High-risk individuals should limit the number of people they interact with.
— Social groups and the number of people residents interact with most often should be kept as small as possible and COVID-19 precautions should be followed, even at home.
DeWine stressed he is not regulating people while they are alone in their own homes. The recommendations are for gatherings.
“It’s the informal, it’s being with friends, it’s the things we all love to do, being with friends, being with family in backyard barbecues, and all kinds of other things that we’re seeing a significant amount of spread,” DeWine said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.