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DeWine Calls For Soft Re-Opening Of Business Starting May 1st

Apr 16, 2020

Credit Andy Chow / Statehouse News Bureau

Aggressive measures to control the spread of the coronavirus in Ohio by closing businesses and schools, and ordering people to stay at home seem to be having the desired effect of flattening the curve of growing COVID-19 cases.  And Ohio Governor Mike DeWine indicated today it's time to plan for the next stage of Ohio's recovery from the pandemic.  

He opened his daily press conference by quoting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, from a low point in World War II.

"'This is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.' And that's where I think we are today."

DeWine says state officials are planning to begin reopening businesses starting May 1st.  He says a board of business advisors  is considering medical advice, scientific evidence and the best practices of business that have remained open, as they layout a plan .  And he says the process will be slow.

"We're looking to being this process on May 1.  We've got a lot more work to do between now and May 1... because we want to get this right.  And this will be phased in, because we gotta measure how we're doing as we go....  The world that we're going to see is a different world.  And the world in the workplace is gonna be different."

DeWine says he understands the plight of the over 850,000 Ohioans who have been forced to file for unemployment compensation as a result of business shut downs, but he says wide-scale repoenings could lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Ohio, which could be even more disasterous. 

DeWine didn't give specifics on what businesses might reopen first, only saying that they would have to demonstrate they could comply with the advice given to "essential" business - providing for safe social distance, small groups of people, and proper sanitizing procedures.  And that the state would keep an eye on hospital admissions, capacity, and testing and tracing cases of COVID-19.

He says he is working with the governors of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in a coordinated approach to reopening the region.  He did not say if he would allow the "stay-at-home" order to expire May 1st.  When asked about reopening schools in Ohio this school year, DeWine said only that the issue would be discussed "shortly".