Business association cautious as possible May 1 reopen date nears

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – On Friday Governor Mike DeWine laid out further plans to ease restrictions on Ohio businesses starting May 1st. There was some guarded optimism from the business community. But the governor and Dr. Acton insist it will be a slow process that takes into account the health and safety of all Ohioans. And business leaders say it’s likely not everyone will be able to reopen. 

Dr. Amy Acton says, “I do hope no one at home thinks it’s wide-open May 1, going back to life as normal. It’s really hard to hear that, but we are not going back to six months ago.” 

On Friday Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton unveiled the criteria that must be met before restarting the state’s economy. The Governor says, “A lot of this is just common sense and it’s good business.” 

The governor says even after reopening, employees will wear masks and gloves, start times and lunches will be staggered, temperatures will be taken before work, and social distancing will continue. 

Sam Brady is an at-large Director with the Ohio Economic Development Association. He says, “You’re going to see probably a broad rethinking of the traditional 9 to 5 operating hours. You may see more of a 9 to 9 system with crews coming in at staggered times.” 

But not every business will likely survive. Brady has been mulling a natural disaster statistic: “40% of all businesses that close during a disaster, that are forced to close, never reopen.” 

The restaurant industry in particular is in danger. John Barker is the President & CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association. He says, “We think that a certain percentage of restaurants are just not going to make it.” 

Barker says 51% of all restaurants are closed right now, those that remain open report losses between 20-90%. The restaurants that do reopen will face significant challenges getting up to speed. Barker says, “We estimate it’s about a two-week period. Most of the restaurants that are closed have completely depleted their inventory. They have no fresh items in their restaurants, no perishables.” 

Whenever the state reopens, the governor says the mindset during the shutdown needs to continue. “Some things, as I said, do not change. One of them is that we have to assume that everyone we meet is carrying the virus.” 

John Barker says the Ohio Restaurant Association has created an employee relief fund to help some of the state’s 585,000 restaurant employees. The association will start doling out those grants next week. 

CLICK HERE to donate to the fund or apply for a grant. 

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