Gov. Mike DeWine planning gradual reopening of businesses beginning May 1

Posted at 3:08 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 10:08:36-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After months of increased restrictions placed upon businesses and employees across Ohio to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday he and his team have been looking ahead and planning for the gradual return to life as we knew it.

DeWine and his team had announced two weeks ago that they would be creating a board of economic advisers with CEOs from both major companies and smaller businesses across the state to help with the business and economic impact on Ohio the pandemic has caused.

On Thursday, the group gave DeWine a verbal report on their plan, which he described as a “work in progress.”

The plan, which DeWine reminded is not a guarantee, will look to start reopening the economy and some businesses in Ohio with very strict guidelines beginning on May 1 once the current stay at home order expires.

With many companies deemed essential that have remained open through the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons in safety, hygiene and protocol have been learned and that knowledge will be adopted as guidelines for businesses that will be allowed to reopen, DeWine said.

Some of the suggested measures businesses may have to follow in order to reopen, once given the go-ahead by DeWine and his team, include:

  • Regular checks of personal protective equipment
  • Limited visitors/guests
  • Health screenings upon entry
  • Clear guidelines on hygiene
  • Self-monitoring instructions for illness
  • Enforcement of social distancing guidelines

The guidelines were given as suggested measures based on the actions Frank Sullivan of RPM Internation Inc. has adopted.

DeWine said he and his team have a lot more work to do between now and May 1 for some businesses to reopen because they don’t want to cause a surge in COVID-19 after doing so well to flatten the curve thus far.

Companies that can demonstrate the ability to follow some of the suggested guidelines—for both their customers and their employees—will be the first to be allowed to reopen, DeWine said.

No matter how many businesses are able to reopen, the strict guidelines will remain long-term, DeWine said.

“It’s going to be gradual,” DeWine said. “It’s not that we’re re-opening the state in that sense but we want to do it in a way that engenders confidence in people in the state of Ohio that when a business is open that customers are safe, that employees are as safe as we can make them.”

DeWine emphasized that his commitment is to fight as hard as he can to save lives and bring the economy back at the same time. The economy part of the fight will begin on May 1, if all goes according to plan, DeWine said.

In effort to regain economic strength regionally, Governor DeWine also announced plans to work with surrounding states to coordinate reopening efforts across the Midwest.

Those states include Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Kentucky.

A press released stated, “We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region. Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community. We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet.”

It went on to say the governors will focus on four factors; sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

Cleveland State University Economics Chairman and professor, Bill Kosteas, says making a regional plan is important to help move forward.

“With increased economic activity you’re going to have increased across state borders flows of people so you want to make sure that when people are moving across state lines that everybody’s kind of following the same protocols, the same procedures moving forward in terms of trying to maintain this social distancing practices,” Kosteas said.

Still, Kosteas says the economic impact in Ohio may be too massive to put into figures right now.

“It’s truly incredible in a bad way,” said Bill Kosteas. “When you’re looking long term, who’s going to have the longest road ahead is probably the travel industry. I think it’s going to be a long time before people feel comfortable traveling, especially air travel.”

He says one of the biggest concerns moving forward is once businesses reopen, will consumers have the spending power to make a difference?

"It’s not a uniform effect. You actually could potentially see some households have more to spend. Now the question is what are they going to spend it on and will they feel comfortable?”

According to Kosteas, the comfort consumers will need will largely dependent on medical leaders.

“It’s also going to depend in part on what kind of advancements we get from the medical center in the next few months as well because it’s going to go a long way.”

But as states begin to reopen, Kosteas says he hopes DeWine and the federal government looks at creating a better approach in case there is a resurge in cases, while also considering cold and flu season reproaching.

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