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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.

Ohio Bars, Restaurants And Salons To Start Reopening May 15

David Holm
Dempsey's in Columbus.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday unveiled dates and guidelines for reopening bars and restaurants, as well as barber shops, hair salons and other personal care businesses that have been closed for more than 50 days due to stay-at-home orders over the coronavirus pandemic.

Barber shops, salons, spas and the like can open May 15. Restaurants can open for outside dining May 15 and inside dining May 21. Both groups have guidelines they must abide by, devised by different working groups comprised of industry representatives from across the state.

Guidelines For Personal Care Services

Debbie Penzone, president and CEO of Charles Penzone Salons, led the working group for her industry and shared the following recommendations:

  • Customers may have to wait in vehicles for their appointment
  • For walk-in appointments, patrons are advised to walk in alone, with exceptions for children and people who require a caregiver
  • Magazines, product testing and self-service beverages will no longer be available
  • Professionals will wear masks, and customers are asked to wear them as well
  • Cleaning measures will increase and be done in addition to the usual sanitization requirements

Guidelines For Bars And Restaurants

Treva Weaver, COO of N. Wasserstrom and owner of Zoup! Eatery, shared her group's recommendations. They include:

  • Restaurants and bars are asked to create a floor plan that complies with social distancing guidelines
  • Parties can be seated in groups of 10 or less
  • Each party must be separated by either six feet or a physical barrier, such as a high booth back or plexiglass
  • Customers may be asked to wait in cars until seating is available or there may be a designated area for queuing
  • Buffets will no longer be self-service and instead served directly to the customer
  • Restaurants will display a list of COVID-19 symptoms for the public to self-monitor and ensure compliance before entering an establishment
  • Employees in certain positions will be required to wear masks, with exceptions that mostly apply to back of house staff due to safety concerns
  • Likewise, some but not all employees will be required to wear gloves. Weaver noted you are not likely to see gloves on cashiers or servers
  • Handwashing, Weaver said, will continue to be the gold standard
  • Restaurant owners are allowed to ask customers to wear masks

Open congregate areas of restaurants and bars will remain closed during this first phase. "But you can certainly repurpose that," Weaver said. "If you have a dance floor or other activity space, you can use that to be able to maintain that six-foot distance of your tables."
All of the above guidelines "will be strictly enforced," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said, adding these two industries in particular are accustomed to being regulated and following strict guidelines.

DeWine, meanwhile, acknowledged that as these businesses open up, risks increase.

"A lot of this depends on what we do," he said. "…It is so very important to continue social distancing. It is important when possible to wear a mask. This is a gamble. ... It really is in our hands."

Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.