COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Retail businesses can open up under certain conditions beginning Saturday, almost two weeks earlier than previously stated, according to a surprise condition in Ohio’s latest stay-at-home order issued Friday.
The 14-page directive from Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says currently closed retail establishments can begin offering curbside pickup or delivery on Saturday.
In addition, stores that restrict operations to 10 customers on an “appointment-only” basis can reopen Saturday.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine had said all week that retail businesses could not reopen until May 12.
DeWine planned to discuss the new order at his Friday press briefing, spokesman Dan Tierney said.
Consistent with DeWine’s earlier announcements, health care offices were allowed to reopen Friday, followed by construction companies, distributors, manufacturers and offices on Monday, May 4.
Bars and movie theaters remain closed, along with in-person dining at restaurants, which are permitted to offer carryout.
Sporting events and concerts are still prohibited.
Masks are mandatory for employees returning to reopened businesses and strongly recommended for customers and clients under the Ohio order.
Businesses have the authority to require customers to wear masks, and some — like Costco — have already done so.
Republican state Rep. Nino Vitale, who’s among the more than 30 GOP lawmakers calling for all businesses to reopen right away, blasted the latest order issued by health director.
“Now when you go to bed at night, you have NO IDEA what your rights will be when you get up in the morning,” he wrote on his Facebook page Friday.
In other coronavirus-related developments in Ohio:
The state has 975 presumptive or confirmed virus-related deaths, and more than 18,000 cases, including more than 3,500 hospitalizations, the state health department reported Thursday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks.
Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Kroger opened its first Columbus drive-thru site for coronavirus testing on Thursday, with capacity for 330 tests a day, and planned to open another in Cincinnati on Friday.
The company previously added Ohio sites in Toledo, Bowling Green and suburban Dayton, along with Detroit and Denver.
Two prison employees and 28 Ohio prison inmates have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Nearly 4,000 inmates have tested positive, but the prisons agency has only conducted universal testing at three facilities to date, meaning the actual number of positive cases is unknown.