COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that beginning May 1, Ohio will once again be open for business.
And by the middle of the month more and more will be able unlock their doors.
“I don’t think I have to tell any Ohioan the importance of moving forward,” he said. “My heart aches for the businessmen and women who have not been able to work, who are looking at savings going down everyday, the people who work in those businesses, people who are unemployed. One can not overstate the tragedy of this.”
Starting on Friday, May 1, all health procedures and surgeries that do not require an overnight stay in a hospital will be permitted. Dentists and veterinarians can also move “full steam ahead,” DeWine said.
On Monday, May 4, manufacturing, distribution, general offices, and construction will be allowed to reopen. Employees, clients, and customers must wear masks while inside, DeWine said, and if the recommended social distancing can’t take place, employers should install barriers. He added that employees in general offices should still consider working from home if at all possible.
On Tuesday, May 12, consumer retail and services will be allowed to reopen. All employees and customers must wear face coverings while in the business.
“This may be a little different walking into a store, but all these requirements of course will be in place for companies that are already open,” DeWine said.
Dine-in restaurants and bars, along with personal appearance and beauty businesses will remain closed. Older adult day care services, senior centers, adult day support or vocational operations, and entertainment, recreation facilities, and gyms will also remain closed, DeWine said.
“I wish I could open everything today,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet.”
Each sector of business has additional operating requirements, but in general, DeWine listed five protocols for all: no mask, no work, no service, no exception; conduct daily health assessments; maintain good hygiene; clean and sanitize; limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines — maximum capacity at 50 percent of fire code, and use appointment setting where possible to limit congestion.
When a COVID-19 infection is identified, businesses are to immediately report it to the local health district; work with the health department to identify potentially exposed individuals; shutdown the business for deep sanitation if possible; professionally clean and sanitize; and only reopen in consultation with the health department.
Although not a requirement, DeWine encouraged people who are out in public to wear facial covering.
“The coronavirus is still here,” DeWine said. “It is just as dangerous as it’s ever been. It is still living amongst us. The tools that we have had to slow it down, to break it from going from one person to another are still the same. Distance, Distance, Distance. Keeping that distance.”
The stay at home order will remain in place and the 10-person limit on gatherings is still in effect.
“I think you can kind of see what we’re trying to do here,” DeWine said. “We know there’s more things to do. We need to see how this works. We need to monitor the numbers.”
DeWine also announced that testing will be dramatically increased. By the week of May 6 the state hopes to be able to test 14,275 people daily. By the end of May, daily testing will be more than 22,200, according to DeWine.
“These are what we think we’re going to be able to achieve,” he said.
The state will also increase its contact tracing workforce, which will number an estimated 1,750 workers, who will be paid for with funding.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.