COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement this week that the Ohio economy could begin reopening on May 1 will come with some conditions to prevent a spike in COVID-19 coronavirus cases.
DeWine said there are three conditions that must be met in order for the economic restart to begin: Public health measures and compliance must be established, people most vulnerable to the disease must be protected, and businesses operate safely with safeguards in place.
“After May 1, things will change some, but the essential reality is that this virus will remain out there, so our lives must be guided by that,” DeWine said. “We want to make sure every individual has as much info about their own condition and what risks there are.”
Some of those safeguards outlined by the governor include:
- Distancing – keeping customers and employees the recommended 6 feet apart
- Masks – it could become commonplace to see employees and customers wearing protective masks
- Barriers – barriers should be placed where social distancing isn’t possible, both in retail and in manufacturing where appropriate.
- More frequent cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces
- Employees wearing gloves and ample opportunities for employees to wash and sanitize their hands
- Standard arrival and departure times for employees, and staggered breaks to avoid crowds
- Working from home where available
- Wellness checks for employees when they arrive to work
- Limits to the number of people allowed inside a business at one time.
“We need to protect employees and protect customers,” DeWine said. “That’s it. Everything kind of flows from there.”
More details of the plan are expected to be announced next week, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the state is seeing a flattened curve and the number of reported cases remains steady.
“I think it’s really important to be very realistic for the public,” she said. “We have a journey ahead. We’ve often said we’ve won the first battle, but we know as the governor mentioned today that it’s a long time before we have that vaccine in hand or potentially herd immunity…There’s a journey between now and that time. We have a road to travel, and this is a road that is unprecedented.”
And while things are expected to begin reopening May 1, there is one essential fact DeWine wants everyone to keep in mind: the virus is not going to go away.
“We have to assume that everyone we meet is carrying the virus,” DeWine said. “Because many people are walking around among us and don’t know they’re carrying the virus.”
Husted said many different businesses and the public are being listened to while formulating the plan to instill confidence in businesses, employees, and customers.
“(We want) Ohioans to feel comfortable that when May 1 comes that we’re going to have the most thoughtful restart we can possibly have,” he said.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the restart will not be a wide-open restart come May 1, saying the restart will have to inch forward.
“I do hope no one thinks it’s wide open May 1, going back to life as normal,” Acton said. “It’s really hard to hear that but we are not going back to six months ago. That’s not the reality we all face.”