Ohio Investigative Unit to conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars, restaurants

Gov. DeWine gives update on state’s coronavirus response

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced he is putting together an enforcement team as part of Department of Public Safety’s Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) that will be made up of law enforcement and health officials to conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants.

Ohio’s bars and restaurants were allowed to open their patios on May 15 with strict social distancing guidelines. Dine-in service is scheduled to resume on May 21.

DeWine said he will not stand for restaurants violating the state’s safety rules.

“They will issue administrative citations that could result in the revocation of liquor licenses. Further, we will work with municipal prosecutors to take potential criminal actions against these bad actors,” DeWine said.

He addressed the opening of bars and restaurants over the weekend in Ohio and acknowledged there are risks involved.

“I’ve always tried to be blunt about everything we are finding. I’ve been candid in saying that in this reopening phase, there is a significant risk. But, there are significant risks if we do not open up. It’s up to all of us to open our economy but to do this in a safe way,” DeWine said.

He said the state’s economic recovery is tied directly to how successful Ohio is in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“When we look at how restaurants/bars operate, distance is key. We got reports over the weekend that most were doing an amazing job. But, it’s clear that we have some outliers - businesses that were not doing what they should do.”

Last week, DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced several reopening for the state including daycares, pools and gyms.

Daycare and child care centers in Ohio can reopen on May 31.

The child care providers will be required to reduce the number of children in each classroom and intensify cleaning and handwashing practices.

Providers will wear masks, daily temperature taking will be routine and anyone with a temp of more than 100-degrees has to go home.

Only nine children will be allowed in classes. In infant rooms, only six children will be allowed.

Ohio is utilizing more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide reopening grants to all of Ohio’s child care providers.

“This includes family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers. All are eligible for this grant program,” DeWine said.

Other announced reopenings:

  • Campgrounds will open completely statewide on May 21.
  • BMV’s will open on May 26. Services that can be accomplished online should still be done online.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and recreation centers can reopen on May 26.
  • Sports leagues, non-contact, limited-contact sports, can be reestablished May 26. Other high-contact sports are still being considered.
  • Pools can open on May 26 if they are regulated by local health departments. This does not include water parks or amusement parks.
  • Horse racing can resume on May 22. However, spectators will be prohibited.

Husted spoke about school-related sporting activities.

“The state will begin to coordinate with OHSAA to get a better picture of what can be done to limit the spread of coronavirus but possibly allow sports,” he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 28,454 coronavirus cases and 1,657 deaths.

Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said if Ohioans don’t continue to take safety precautions, wear masks, and social distance COVID-19 will spread quickly.

“What you do every day and how you practice good safety habits will literally determine whether other people live or die. What you do could cost others their lives,” DeWine said.

She said the number of new cases of COVID-19 for Monday continues to show Ohio is still in a “plateau” phase of the virus where the rate of increase is holding steady.

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