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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

As Businesses Reopen, Hamilton County Reports Small Number Of Complaints

bars and restaurants
Courtesy of Jason Whitman
People gather for food and drinks in the Over-the-Rhine as restaurants and bars begin to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday, May 16, 2020.

The Hamilton County Health Department received just over a dozen phone calls this past weekend about safety concerns as some businesses reopened Friday. 

County Commission President Denise Driehaus said many of them were low-level concerns, and so were corrected with phone calls to the businesses. 

Driehaus said she spoke with the interim health commissioner Monday morning.

"His overall tone about it was that things went pretty well from his estimation," Driehaus said. "People responded when they went out and talked to them about safe distancing and wearing masks. People were responsive to what they were hearing from the health department."

Driehaus said she drove around Friday evening observing and had dinner at a restaurant with outdoor dining.

"There are facilities doing this the right way," Driehaus said. "Are there going to be folks disregarding some of this? Probably. My personal experience on Friday night was that things at the restaurant I went to were going just as they should have been."

Restaurants will be able to open their dining rooms Thursday if they meet safety guidelines. 

Meanwhile, Cincinnati officials had to threaten shutting down some bars over the weekend that were not adhering to physical distancing guidelines. 

"Despite widespread compliance, there were a few bars that clearly did not follow the requirement that all patrons have seats and that parties must be no bigger than 10 and that tables be at least six feet apart," said Mayor John Cranley in a statement Saturday. "To any bar that is not following the state orders, consider yourself warned."

Ohio Public Radio reported Monday some bars in the Columbus area observed social distancing. But social media posts showed some businesses that did not.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told OPR that bars could lose their liquor licenses if they're not following the rules. DeWine also warned that businesses could be shut down if coronavirus numbers spike or the state's protocols aren't followed.

DeWine’s office said in a statement that businesses that disregard safety guidelines "are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced".

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.