EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – As the Preble County commissioners express support for businesses who choose to reopen before the dates listed in the state’s “Stay Safe Ohio” order, Preble County Public Health says it will enforce the regulations.
According to the “Stay Safe Ohio” order, manufacturers, distributors, construction companies and offices are allowed to reopen May 4, and retailers are allowed to open their doors to customers May 12.
“We’re not trying to defy the governor,” said Rodney Creech, one of the Preble County commissioners. “We’re just saying that if they didn’t tell you you can’t open, I think you should open.”
Commissioner Creech told 2 NEWS he believes businesses that can follow proper safety protocols should be able to reopen now.
Creech – who owns three local businesses that have been allowed to operate under the state orders – said small businesses are suffering.
“If you can go into Walmart and buy flowers, why shouldn’t you be able to walk into your local flower shop that only has two people in it?” he said. “Why should you have to go to Walmart where there’s 200 or 300 people. I feel like small businesses can operate safer.”
Businesses specifically prohibited from reopening their doors – such as restaurants, salons and gyms – should stay closed, Creech said.
But if a business violates the “Stay Safe Ohio” order, the commissioners would support that business, Creech said.
However, the Preble County health commissioner told 2 NEWS he supports businesses abiding by the order.
“We want them to get back to work – but to get back to work safely and within the confines of the governor’s plan,” said Erik Balster, Preble County health commissioner.
Balster told 2 NEWS he’s confident most businesses in the county will follow the order.
Preble County Public Health will follow up on reported possible violators, Balster said. but law enforcement action would be a “last resort” option.
“We’re not going to drag someone out of their workplace if they’re operating,” Balster said. “I think that’s the last thing anyone wants to do. And I don’t think we would ever hopefully get to a point where that would be necessary.”
According to a spokesperson for the govenor’s office, retailers are allowed to reopen before May 12, only for appointments and curbside pickup.
Commissioner Creech told 2 NEWS the Preble County sheriff and Eaton police told him they would not issue citations for violations of the “Stay Safe Ohio” order. But Balster said those agencies haven’t discussed that with him.
2 NEWS has reached out to both the sheriff and the Eaton Police Department, and we’re still waiting to hear back.