Here’s how Gov. Mike DeWine plans to reopen Ohio amid the coronavirus pandemic
Monday’s briefing, scheduled longer than Gov. Mike DeWine’s normal coronavirus updates, was devoted to the unveiling of his plan — set to begin Friday, May 1. (Office of Gov. Mike DeWine)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced a reopening of Ohio’s economy over the next two weeks — including in health care, construction, manufacturing, offices and retail.
The easing of the coronavirus-related restrictions will begin on Friday, followed by expanded openings May 4 and May 12.
Monday’s briefing, scheduled longer than his normal coronavirus updates, was devoted to the unveiling of his plan. Although the economy will incrementally reopen, “mass gatherings” of more than 10 people will continue to be banned for now. The stay-at-home requirements are also to continue, he said.
Bars, hair salons, restaurants, gyms and daycares will not be open at this time.
“We realize day care remains a challenge for people,” he said, since many bosses are going to require their workers to come in and schools are closed.
DeWine said the point of the partial reopening is to get people back to work.
On Friday: health care
On Friday, all nonessential medical procedures at hospitals that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed to resume, he said. This includes dental and veterinary procedures.
DeWine had previously barred elective surgeries, except under specific circumstances such as life-threatening circumstances, to preserve personal protective equipment.
“The only thing left is some elective surgeries and we’ll see how we’re moving forward and the availability of PPE, we’ll open that up as well,” he said.
May 4: Construction, manufacturing
On May 4, construction, manufacturing and distribution operations will resume in Ohio — but with at least six feet of space between people, face coverings worn at all times, regular hand-washing, hand sanitizer placed around the facility, regular cleaning of items people touch such as carts or baskets, and staggered arrival of employees and guests.
Employees have to perform a daily assessment, which means taking their temperature and checking for coughing and troubled breathing, and their bosses need to allow them to stay at home when they’re symptomatic.
May 4: Offices
On May 4, offices that had previously been deemed “nonessential” under health orders can also reopen, DeWine said.
Employees who can work remotely from home should do so. Those who come into the office must conduct the daily health assessment.
Masks must be worn at all times.
Employers must require regular hand-washing, reduce sharing of work materials, limit travel, stagger the arrival of employees and guests, frequently disinfect work stations and daily disinfect common areas.
There needs to be a maximum occupancy that is lower than what is allowed under the fire code.
May 12: retailers and service companies
On May 12, retailers and service companies will be allowed to reopen, he said, with employees and customers required to wear facial coverings. Guests must enter in a staggered fashion to allow 6 feet between them — along with signs announcing social distancing.
High-contact surfaces must be disinfected hourly. If possible, merchandise must be cleaned before restocking.
Food courts must remain closed, he said.
“The rationale of waiting two more weeks (for retail) is we’re layering it in,” DeWine said, which will hopefully keep the state from having to reverse any of these openings due to severe outbreaks.
Customers who are symptomatic should be asked to not enter.
How to make sure companies comply?
“These are ultimately enforced by the local health departments,” DeWine said.
In the weeks following the first coronavirus restrictions, employees and members of the public called health departments with concerns, DeWine said.
“There’s going to be, I think, community pressure to make sure that people provide a safe place – first with manufacturing, then a few days later when we get to the point of retail,” he said.
Lifting stay-at-home order?
If people are going to be allowed to shop at their favorite stores, then doesn’t that make the stay-at-order moot?
DeWine said people need to use caution when going out, wear masks and try to stay at least six feet apart. They need to use common sense, he said.
“In reality, it is a common-sense approach in how you deal with a situation that is a dangerous situation,” he said.
What happens after May 12?
DeWine said that he’s taking a one-step-at-a-time approach. If Ohio’s reopening proceeds without a severe uptick in outbreaks, then more restrictions will be eased at a later date, he said.
Despite a protest movement that’s tried to push him to reopen the economy now, new polling announced Monday shows a majority who are not too keen on reopening restaurants, retailers, hair salons and churches.
As of Monday, the Ohio Department of Health announced coronavirus has killed 752, with 16,325 infected.
However, DeWine emphasized that new infections and hospitalizations over the past five days are down.
“As you can see, we’re going in the right direction,” he said.
DeWine said people need to keep their distance, wash their hands, sanitize surfaces and wear face masks.
“These are things we are going to have to continue to do as we move forward in the economy,” he said.
However, they won’t last forever, he said.
DeWine announced breakthroughs in testing and contact tracing last week, which he emphasized on Monday, to support his case to reopen Ohio. More tests and tracking of sick people will allow Ohio to safely open, he said.
He emphasized that the danger of coronavirus transmission will continue for a year to 18 months, until either a vaccine or a drug is developed.
DeWine said the economic effects have been devastating for workers and companies.
“My heart aches for the business men and women who are not able to work,” he said.
Anxiety over not having a paycheck to take care a family is also a health impact, he said.
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