Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced during his Thursday press briefing that bars and restaurants may begin opening as soon as May 15. The reopening will happen in two phases: outdoor seating and patio usage can begin May 15, and indoor dining can open May 21.
Restaurants will be under regulation from the Ohio Health Department. Debra Penzone, business owner and chair of the committee tasked with planning this next phase of reopenings, spoke during the press briefing.
“Restaurants and bars are going to be asked to create a floor plan that complies with social distancing guidelines,” Penzone said. “Under the current mandate, there are parties of 10 or less that will be seated together. Each party is going to be separated by either six feet or physical barrier.”
Changes could include waiting in the car instead of inside a restaurant for seating or take-out. Penzone said employees of self-service bars will serve customers.
When customers enter a restaurant or bar, a list of novel coronavirus symptoms will be listed at the main entrance. Customers displaying any of these symptoms are asked to remain at home.
Customers could also be asked to wear masks, but that is at the owner's discretion.
Penzone explained that employees will be required to wear masks unless doing so would cause a safety risk.
“You don’t want someone standing over a hot grill with a mask,” Penzone said.
If possible, restaurant employees must stand six feet apart, otherwise restaurants must increase sanitation. Daily cleanings of businesses are required, including tabletops, chairs and commonly touched surfaces.
Common tabletop items such as condiments, straws, stirring sticks and vases will be removed.
Oxford restaurant Skipper's Pub will be opening according to the health department’s guidelines on May 15, said co-owner Andy Amarantos.
“They say the tables have to be six feet apart. What about four people having dinner at the same table?” Amarantos asked. “There's so many questions out there that everybody's just kind of unsure [about], so we’re rolling along with it all.”
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Amarantos said Skipper’s had masks that say “Skipper’s” on them made for their employees and are having face shields made.
However, Amarantos is having some trouble accessing the safety equipment Skipper’s needs.
“I ordered thermometers six weeks ago; they're still not here,” Amarantos said.
Oxford bar Brick Street has no plans to reopen as of now, according to Brick Street Management.
Skippers has remained open for delivery and takeout, but Amarantos said he’s unsure if business will improve with the reopening of restaurants, as many students have left campus. He’s hopeful some students will come back to see their friends for graduation or to move out.
“We're trying to go along with the flow,” Amarantos said, “and keep everybody happy and do the best we can to survive.”