COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus City Council has approved legislation that will shut down restaurants and bars nightly at 10 p.m., starting Tuesday night, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts addressed council before the vote, stating her department has received numerous complaints regarding Columbus establishments not following the rules regarding facial coverings and social distancing for restaurants and bars.
Restaurants are able to do delivery and take-out after 10 p.m., according to the legislation, but they are not allowed to serve anyone in their dining rooms. Bars will be required to close at 10 p.m.
Roberts said Monday there has been a 220% increase in cases since portions of Columbus began reopening June 1, with many of those cases coming from people between the ages of 20 and 39, and most of those cases coming from people between the ages of 20 and 29.
Out of Franklin County’s 16,474 COVID-19 cases, 12,379 are in Columbus Public Health’s jurisdiction, which includes Columbus and Worthington.
Roberts said it’s difficult for restaurant and bar staff to police patrons as customers “normalize” their experience inside the establishments.
Many members of the public spoke out against the legislation.
“We certainly do know that there are some very small number of operators out there who may not be following the Dine Safe Ohio order and we have been strong advocates, we’ve worked really closely with the local health departments and with the Ohio Investigative Unit, we talk to them every week, and there will begin to be liquor control commission hearing and other enforcement against those and we are seeing fewer of those operators who were violating the Dine Safe Ohio order,” said Ohio Restaurant Association Managing Director Tod Bowen.
Jane Abell, owner of Donatos Pizza, urged council to reconsider the ordinance, not for her business specifically, but as a representative of restaurant associates across the city.
“I believe the mandates that you have put in place will work if we all commit to follow them,” Abell said. “We have continued to operate as an essential business as outlined by the governor. Feeding people is an important part of what we do every day… By maintaining employment for people, we are helping people make their mortgage payments, their car payments, and put food on the table for their families.”