BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio — Restaurant owners are reacting after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pushed the statewide curfew back to 11:00 p.m., giving restaurants more time to earn business.
The Winking Lizard is a staple in Northeast Ohio.
“We have 16 restaurants operating right now,” said co-owner John Lane. He said they’ve worked hard to keep them open and operating throughout the pandemic.
“I think if you see what we do I think people are safer in our restaurant than having house parties at home with other people gathering,” he said.
Lane said since DeWine put the 10:00 curfew in place, it’s been tough.
“Do I feel like we’ve been a target? I have to say, yeah I feel like we’ve been a target,” said Lane. “The curfew, it hurt more the psyche of people being willing to come out and feeling safe again.”
DeWine said the 10:00 p.m. curfew will be pushed back to 11:00 p.m. after 7 straight days of state hospitalizations remaining under 3,500 cases. After that, if they stay below 3,000 cases for seven days it will be pushed to midnight. A full week of hospitalizations below 2,500 means the curfew will be lifted.
Lane said it’s a piece of good news for the restaurant industry.
“I applaud, finally, that we are going after numbers,” he said.
Though Dr. Joseph Khabbaza with the Cleveland Clinic said just because restrictions are getting looser, doesn’t mean we should let our guard down.
“It’s hard to say either way what that effect will have,” he said. “It’s really kind of that group setting where you’re engaged in interactions with others that are going to be more droplet generating in general.”
But Lane and other restaurant owners are taking the extra hour as a win.
“It really helps us on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. It helps us on big sporting events so we can show the full game and it helps the psyche,” he said.
But said, of course, it will take more than just an extra 60 minutes for the industry to truly bounce back.
“By eventually eliminating the curfew, I think people are going to look at that and say the numbers are down far enough that we can go out and we can feel comfortable,” he said.