COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio will begin cracking down on social distancing at bars after photos showed plenty of customers standing and drinking on crowded patios during the first weekend restaurants and taverns were allowed to reopen, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.
Police officers and health investigators will be making safety checks as part of beefed up enforcement teams, the governor said.
Bar owners could wind up in court or lose their liquor licenses if they don’t take steps to control their customers, DeWine warned.
Some places were “totally out of hand” with a lack of social distancing, he said.
“Have fun, but keep that distance,” DeWine said.
Health departments, including those in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, investigated several complaints at crowded bars and restaurants over the weekend.
Friday was the first day that establishments were allowed to resume outdoor dining and drinking while inside service can resume Thursday.
Among the rules are that customers must be seated when eating or drinking and there must be spacing between tables either by a barrier or 6 feet of distance.
That includes not allowing people to stand around a bar or patio, DeWine said.
The Ohio Restaurant Association wrote in an email to members Saturday evening that there were concerns about reports of establishments not following the governor’s guidelines.
It also said it’s likely “these are isolated incidents and not reflective of our industry’s overall positive response to reopening safely.”
Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments in Ohio:
Increased monitoring at Ohio’s two veterans homes has found 23 residents and three staff members at the Sandusky location have tested positive for the virus, DeWine said.
No one has tested positive at the veterans home in Georgetown.
The state decided to check all 500 residents at both locations after a handful of positive tests came back last week, the governor said.
So far, the state has received the results for about half those, he said.
Health officials in Toledo have started an investigation after learning a person with a confirmed case of the coronavirus was at a barbershop on Friday, the first day Ohio’s beauty salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen.
Officials with The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department said Monday that they want to talk with anyone who was at Bob’s Barber Shop in Curtice on Friday.
The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,657, state health officials said Monday.
The Ohio Department of Health also said that 32 new deaths were reported in the past day and that overall there have been a total of 5,000 hospitalizations.
Health officials said there were now more than 28,000 cases considered either confirmed or probable.
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.
A nurse who worked for the prison system at its Correctional Reception Center in central Ohio died Sunday, becoming the third department employee to die from the virus, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Meanwhile, the prison system is reducing widespread testing in favor of testing inmates who show signs of COVID-19.
The approach follows the advice of state health officials who say that the focus should be on treatment once there are widespread number of positive tests, said prisons director Annette Chambers-Smith
Four inmates housed at three Ohio prisons — Marion, Richland, and Allen correctional institutions — have filed a federal lawsuit to enforce social distancing, get access to cleaning supplies and increase the number of inmates being released.
More than 4,500 inmates have tested positive and 62 have died at seven institutions.