Local restaurants and health officials react to DeWine’s new virus guidance

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According to DeWine, most retail businesses have done a good job providing a safe place for their employees to work

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine addressed Ohioans in a statewide broadcast at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to “discuss the critical stage Ohio is at in battling COVID-19.”

The address comes as Ohio continues to set new records for cases and hospitalizations in the state.

According to DeWine, most retail businesses have done a good job providing a safe place for their employees to work and for their customers to shop. However, he says it is clear there are some businesses where mask-wearing is lacking.

DeWine announced a reissuing of the state’s mask order, with some additions.

  • Each business will be required to post a Face Covering Requirement sign at all public entrances to the store.
  • Each store will be responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks.
  • A new Retail Compliance Unit, comprised of agents led by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, will inspect to ensure compliance.

Gringo’s restaurant in downtown Youngstown just opened on September 8. Owner Rodney Freel said he is worried about his employees and about the business, financially.

“I don’t see the advantage of shutting us down and keeping everyone else open. It would be better to have people police us and make sure we are following guidelines just like they said they were going to do with many of the other merchants,” Freel said.

The 10 p.m. alcohol cutoff is already impacting the restaurant, now it is about figuring out a game plan should the governor shut them down.

Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. James Kravec said the number of cases a day, being in the 6,000 range, is what they expected, but that we need to get that number down.

Hospital beds are filling up, but Kravec expects the beginning of the end will be getting a vaccine. Until then, he said the governor’s revised restrictions and enforcement were something he was hoping to see.

“We know the mask mandate has been there, but the enforcement has been missing. It has been hard for health departments to really have the capacity or the authority to do that. I’m not sure how he is going to do that yet, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Kravec said.

Kravec added that we wasn’t surprised that the governor put on the table that bars, restaurants and fitness centers could be shut down if we don’t get numbers under control. But the goal is to flatten the curve, so we don’t get to that point.

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