Ohio restaurants concerned about Gov. DeWine’s new orders

Coronavirus

DeWine said he'll be issuing new orders and though he didn't say what they'd be, some bar and restaurant owners are worried

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said more orders would be issued this week to control the spread of COVID-19.

DeWine appeared on “Meet the Press” Sunday and talked about where the virus is spreading in the state.

“It’s occurring in bars,” he said. “It’s occurring in churches. It’s occurring from people who have traveled out of state, while a lot of it, frankly, is just people in casual settings — 20, 30, 40, 50 people gathering together.”

The governor again said Ohio is heading in the “wrong direction” as it pertains to the virus, before talking about the new orders with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd.

“Chuck, we’re going to see, you’re going to see more orders from us this week but I, again, want to emphasize it’s not all about orders. You’ve got to get people to come along with you as you do this.”

DeWine did not elaborate on what the new orders would entail, but his comments have some bar and restaurant owners concerned that they will be mandated to shut down again or reduce their service.

“It’s impossible not to be worried to some degree,” said Jordan Helman, owner of High Bank Distillery. “It’s impossible not to see what’s going on in other states, such as Florida and Texas, where they’ve rolled back portions of their openings.”

Helman said he is most concerned for his employees and what they would do if a new order impacts the industry.

“The unemployment money that the federal government extended obviously runs out at the end of the month, that $600 bonus,” he said. “PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] money for almost every company I know of is pretty much gone at this point, so there’s a lot of uncertainty, especially around employment.”

The Ohio Restaurant Association is actively working with lawmakers to put both bar and restaurant owners and employees in the best possible position no matter what happens.

“Restaurants shutting down again for the second time would be devastating,” said John Barker, president and CEO of the ORA. “Knowing that that’s a possibility, and it’s actually happened in a few other states, we’re already working on the next round of the CARES Act with the federal government. So we are already talking to our senators and representatives about the next wave, what would we do to try to help businesses.”

NBC4 reached out to the governor’s office to see if he would comment on what orders would be issued this week, but a spokesperson said DeWine would not publicly discuss that until his briefings Tuesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, bar and restaurant owners like Helman are trying to remain optimistic.

“As a bar and restaurant owner who feels like we are doing things the right way, taking all the precautions, trying to go above and beyond, you remain hopeful that things aren’t going to be made much worse, that they aren’t going to be rolled back, but you never know,” he said.

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