BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – For months, Ohioans had to worry if they remembered their face masks when they left home or if they were standing too close to others because of the coronavirus. But many of those state mandates will now be going away.
Starting on Wednesday, many of the restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic more than a year ago will be lifted in Ohio, but you may not see that much of a change from one day to the next.
“I personally don’t think that things are gonna be drastically different in a lot of places right away,” said Paul Rovnak, with Classic Bakery.
There will be some, like the Schwebel Baking Company’s plant, where restrictions will remain in place even though the state won’t be requiring them.
“We’re still gonna try to do social distancing, and for the time being, we’re still gonna be wearing masks in the facility,” said Jim Behmer, with Schwebel Baking Company.
“Everyone’s gonna have a different level of being comfortable, so it’s gonna be up to the customer to reach that level,” said Michael Rulli, with Rulli Bros. Market.
But even as business owners try to move a step or two closer to returning to normal, they may fall a few steps back because they can’t find enough people to work.
Recently, Schwebel’s parked a trailer across from its plant on Midlothian Boulevard, advertising bonuses for new employees. But Behmer says the company still needs to hire 50 more people.
“When we’re competing with unemployment, extended unemployment, and when our biggest competitor for people is the government, it makes it very difficult,” Behmer said.
Across the area, signs like this are everywhere, offering flexible hours and benefits. Even fast food restaurants are offering hundred-dollar signing bonuses.
Rovnak says he has been forced to close his bakery three days a week until he finds another half-dozen workers.
“It does not matter what these jobs are paying, it doesn’t matter what kind of incentives you’re giving people, it is not helping,” Rovnak said.
Rovnak and others wonder if the situation will change after those extra unemployment benefits are cut off at the end of this month.