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Ohio bars, restaurants respond after being ordered to close amid growing coronavirus concerns

Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 23:30:53-04

CLEVELAND — On Sunday afternoon, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued an unprecedented order to combat the coronavirus outbreak in Ohio—effective 9 p.m. Sunday, all bars and restaurants have been ordered to close their doors to face-to-face customers.

“How are you going be able to compensate what they were supposed to make in tips that day?” Eric Rivera asked. “If they have children this is going to have a domino effect.”

DeWine stressed the order is a necessary means of social distancing after he received calls and emails Saturday night from Ohioans concerned about large gatherings still taking place in their areas.

State officials added delivery and carry-out services from bars and restaurants will still be allowed and are encouraged.

“Walk in, buy coffee and walk out,” DeWine said. “That’s okay. What we can’t have is people who are congregating and people who are seating.”

Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted stressed the importance of still finding ways to support local businesses amid coronavirus concerns.

We don’t want everybody to stop buying restaurant food and start going to the grocery store,” Husted said. “That will create problems of its own.”

Rick Doody owns a handful of Northeast Ohio businesses, including Lindey’s Lake House, and said his businesses will take a direct hit.

“Right now, unfortunately, our to-go business is only about two-and-a-half to three percent of our business,” Doody said.

Husted announced Governor Mike DeWine will make immediate changes to state unemployment laws to mitigate the financial burden for those whose livelihoods are now in limbo. State officials will also waive the current one-week waiting period before an employee can receive unemployment benefits.

Because a majority of Doody’s servers and bartenders rely on tips to pay the bills, he said he plans to go above and beyond to accommodate his employees.

“If we have to feed them, we’ll do so,” Doody said. “We’ll try to come up with projects for them to stay busy as well.”

According to National Restaurant Association statistics, there are more than 22,000 eating and drinking establishments in Ohio.

“I’m more worried about my friends behind the bar and the owners of restaurants that can no longer pay their bills,” Mark Petti said.

RELATED: Gov. DeWine shuts down all bars and restaurants, issues unemployment assistance