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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.

Riverfest Canceled This Year But There's Hope For Oktoberfest


Add Cincinnati's annual Riverfest celebration to the list of major events to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor John Cranley made the announcement Friday morning during a briefing with reporters at City Hall.

"We will not be permitting any gathering activities - you know, beer sales, fireworks, gatherings on the river," Cranley said. "The wonderful tradition of the fireworks will have to wait til 2021."

Newport and Covington had already decided not to participate in Riverfest. 

Cranley said the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce is working to develop a different model for September's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. It could include controlled spaces where officials monitor and limit the number of people entering certain areas. He said those plans are very preliminary.

The mayor and city's health commissioner also reported declining numbers for new COVID-19 cases in the city. That's similar to numbers reported Wednesday by officials from Hamilton County.

"Our numbers are down quickly," Cranley said. "We had a spike two to three weeks ago that was significant, but our reduction has also been significant. And I think a large part is because City Council and I worked together for the mask mandate. I definitely support the governor's mask mandate."

Cincinnati also released information Friday from contact tracers on places people visited while they were thought to be contagious with the coronavirus. The top three on that list include bars/nightclubs, family/friend parties, and retail/grocery stores.

Credit Provided / City of Cincinnati
City of Cincinnati
Chart with large gathering data from Cincinnati officials.

The city also named six bars and nightclubs with what officials described as having the "most complaints, the most egregious complaints and issues with overcrowding."

Credit Provided / City of Cincinnati
City of Cincinnati

An official with the city's health department said representatives had spoken with the management of these establishments, and the information had also been shared with the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.

That commission Friday adopted a rule that now bans the sale of liquor at bars/restaurants after 10 p.m. All liquor on tables in those establishments must be consumed by 11 p.m.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said city officers will be enforcing this rule along with state agents.

"Our officers will respond based on complaints," Isaac said. "If they are found to be in violation, we will document that, we will pass that information on to the Ohio Investigative Unit. And it could potentially result in action against (an) establishment's liquor license."

Mayor Cranley and the city health commissioner also signed a joint emergency order with measures "to promote the safe and healthy operation of schools" for the upcoming school year.

"These measures include streamlining approvals for the installation of modular trailers, tents and other temporary facilities so as to enhance schools' ability to implement social distancing measures and provide a safe and healthy environment for their students, faculty, and staff during the CVODI-19 pandemic," written in the order.

The Cincinnati Recreation Commission is also offering the use of some of its recreation centers to serve as satellite locations for Cincinnati Public Schools.

Credit Provided / City of Cincinnati
City of Cincinnati