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Gov. Mike DeWine vows action if establishments don’t restrain crowds

Mike DeWine
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 18:22:41-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said officials will do “whatever we have to do” to enforce social distancing and other protective measures if bars and restaurants fail to restrain crowds as the state eases coronavirus measures.

DeWine said he had seen images of a packed Columbus restaurant-bar over the weekend.

“The good news is that the ownership, people running the bar, seemed to get control of it last night,” he said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We didn’t have to issue any citations,” he said, adding that another Columbus bar had been cited.

A Columbus Public Health spokeswoman told the Columbus Dispatch, however, that repeated warnings were issued Saturday about overcrowding at the same restaurant-bar and a complaint was referred to the city attorney. The establishment’s management wrote on Facebook that after “a positive interaction” with police, fire, and health officials, it would ask customers “to stay seated at their tables and be cognizant of the distance between themselves and other groups.”

“Ultimately, it’s going to come to Ohioans doing what Ohioans have done for the last two months, and that is, by and large, done exactly what they should do, try to keep the distance,” DeWine said.

DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney said operators of businesses disregarding safety guidelines “are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced.” Most Ohio bars and restaurants did “their part to follow best practices to keep patrons safe and socially distanced,” he said.

There are concerns about reports of establishments not operating in accord with the governor’s guidelines, the Ohio Restaurant Association wrote in an email to members Saturday evening. But the organization said it is likely that “these are isolated incidents and not reflective of our industry’s overall positive response to reopening safely.”