Lakewood debates mask mandate, capacity reduction for bars and restaurants

Lakewood masks
Posted at 9:35 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 23:24:11-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — It may soon be mandatory to wear a mask or face covering inside bars and restaurants in the city of Lakewood, and those businesses may also have to cut their capacity to 50% of what's allowed by the fire code.

Lakewood's mayor and city council members discussed the issue Monday night at a virtual council meeting but did not make a final decision on what to do, instead referring it to a committee for further discussion next Monday evening.

While some restaurant and bar owners are fine with the idea of further reducing capacity, others are not on board with that idea.

Jessica Parkison, co-owner of Salt, a restaurant in Lakewood, said Salt is following all the guidelines and has spent a lot of money to make the restaurant safe for staff and guests.

"We are struggling every single day. Every day," Parkison said.

Parkison said if the restrictions on capacity become reality, it would be a big hit to Salt's bottom line, as well as those of other restaurants.

"With bars, I know that it would be a little bit different, but for us, we really can’t take much more," Parkison said.

Salt reopened June 1 with lots of changes in place to meet new guidelines, including hand sanitizer stationed in several places around the restaurant. Staff and customers must wear masks or face coverings. They're cleaning restrooms and surfaces even more frequently. And, in the indoor dining room that seats 74 people, the restaurant is allowing just 41 people.

"In between each guest, we do a complete wipedown of every table and chair," Parkison said.

COVID-19 and all its effects have meant Salt's business is down 70 to 80%, according to Parkison. While she is fine with the potential mask mandate, she said the capacity reduction, if passed, may make operating Salt unsustainable.

"I know I’m not the only business owner going through this right now, and cutting the capacity like that would really affect us tremendously," she said.

Parkison said she wishes the city would trust restaurants who are doing things right and following the rules, instead of adding new ones.

"For the handful of restaurants or bars that aren’t abiding by that, for all of us to have to pay that cost, it’s not fair, it’s not good," Parkison said.

Parkison added that the city recently allowed restaurants to expand their patios, something that cost the restaurants money. She hopes that the city will consider excluding staff and patio capacity when reducing indoor capacity.

She noted that Salt currently has time limits in place for customers dining in, and she said those might have to be cut back further if there's a reduction in capacity.

"It also may force us to extend our hours longer to allow more guests to come through our doors," Parkison said.

Lakewood's mayor said during Monday's meeting that she wants to change the proposed legislation on capacity to allow restaurants that wish to expand to 75% capacity to file a site plan with the city's building department.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Ohio, a timeline of Governor Mike DeWine's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Northeast Ohio, and link to more information from the Ohio Department of Health, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the CDC and the WHO.

See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.

The CDC and the Ohio Department of Health are now recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Read more about the CDC's recommendation here. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a face maskfrom common household materials, without having to know how to sew.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.