Ohio Statehouse: GOP, Dems offer alternatives to DeWine re-open plan

Open sign

Some businesses face new restrictions under Ohio’s stay at home order.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – After Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine announced his staggered plan to re-open the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak, two alternative plans were made public by members of the Ohio Statehouse on Monday.

The Open Ohio Responsibly Framework has signatures from 33 Republican state representatives, including local reps J. Todd Smith. Jena Powell and Phil Plummer. The framework allows all businesses to open on May 1 with social distancing, masks, mandatory wellness checks and other protocols. Powell said the framework would center on businesses following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines regarding COVID-19.

The Ohio Democratic Caucus released its A Responsible Restart for Ohio which identifies 10 areas of focus for an eventual reopening, but didn’t have any set dates. Those areas are:

  • Testing
  • Tracing
  • Hygiene
  • Childcare
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Worker Protections
  • Consumer Confidence
  • Support for Business
  • General Election
  • Public Awareness

“As we begin this incremental process of “re-opening” the state, we must proceed with caution,” Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes said in a release on the OhioHouse.gov website. “We save our economy by first saving lives nad we do it in that order.”

The Governor’s plan would have dental and veterinary facilities re-open on Friday, May 1 as well as healthcare with the exception of procedures that require overnight stays. Manufacturing, distribution, construction companies and general offices will re-open Monday, May 4. Retailers will re-open on May 12. DeWine did not set a date for dine-in restaurants or bars to re-open.

“We can trust Ohioans to responsibly open businesses so we don’t continue hurting the economy,” Powell said.

Powell, who is from Arcanum, said the state can re-open the economy on Friday based on how well Ohioans performed during the stay-at-home order over the last month.

“(The framework) follows CDC guidelines as well as puts in place other precautionary guidelines,” Powell said. “We believe the people in the state made smart decisions during the past month and will continue.

“I’ve talked to hundreds in my community and across the state. You’re balancing talking to people who are in fear their businesses are going to close with someone who has a loved one dying in a nursing facility. We can be compassionate and caring for the community and do what’s best for the state economically. We don’t have to just do one thing.”

Smith, from Farmersville, said the purpose of quarantining was to not overload the healthcare system. He said in some cases hospitals are furloughing people.

“I don’t buy into the hype from either side,” Smith said. “The idea behind the quarantine was not to overload the healthcare system and we have achieved that. I don’t see why we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. We can be serious about COVID-19 and keep businesses open.”

Powell said the House GOP hasn’t decided whether to put its framework into legislation.

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