‘How much more can local businesses suffer?:' 21-day curfew to start Thursday

Ohio will implement a curfew on Thursday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the next three weeks, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday — a move a Springfield restaurant owner said is just another blow to business.

The curfew will not apply to people going to and from work, anyone getting groceries or picking up takeout from restaurants and anyone going to the hospital, DeWine said.

Violation of the curfew will be a second-degree misdemeanor, DeWine said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that of all the options discussed with business leaders and other officials, the 21-day curfew was considered the least disruptive to businesses while still working to slow the spread of the virus.

“We believe this will help reduce COVID-19 spread,” DeWine said. “I’m also asking each Ohioan every day to do at least on thing that reduces your contact with others.”

Tina Ramsey, owner of O’Conners Irish Pub in Springfield, said while she’s glad the governor didn’t shut down dining completely, the next 21-days “are going to be a struggle.”

“How much more can local businesses suffer?” Ramsey said. “I’d like to get back to normal. It’s been eight months, it’s time to do something. We still have to live our lives.”

Ramsey said its been hard to run a business during the pandemic. She said it felt like “it’s always been something.”

“My biggest day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day, got taken away, now my second biggest day, the night before Thanksgiving, is gone too. And that’s not just money I’m losing, that’s my staff too,” Ramsey said. “They are suffering too.”

John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said the group is in support of the curfew.

“We think it’s the right step at the right time,” Barker said. “We believe the curfew is the best choice to slow things down.”

Barker said the group is happy with the exemption that will allow takeout orders after 10 p.m., noting that it will help restaurants continue to serve customers working the second shift.

Ramsey said she’s happy about that too, however, she wishes the state would put a regulation in place and stick with it instead of “changing it every three weeks.”

“We’ve done everything they have asked. We get used to it being one way, then they change it three weeks later. It’s hard to run a business day-to-day when you don’t know what is going to happen next,” Ramsey said.

When asked if he is still considering closing bars and restaurants, DeWine said the state will first try the 21-day curfew. Once the three weeks have passed, the governor said officials will re-evaluate their next moves.

DeWine called another complete shutdown a “dramatic” step and noted that another one would have consequences.

“I had to balance the bad things that could happen with the positive things,” DeWine said.

In addition to the curfew, DeWine also asked Ohioans to cut down contact with non-household members by 20 to 25%. Paired with wearing face masks, the governor said this will go a “long-way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun.”

There were 7,079 COVID-19 cases and 368 hospitalizations reported on Tuesday.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Department of Health’s chief medical officer, said right now Ohio’s hospitals have the capacity to treat COVID-19 and other patients. However, staffing is limited as health officials get sick while being out in the community, he said.

“We all need to do absolutely everything we can to contain the spread of this virus,” Vanderhoff said. “We’re at a critical juncture.”

Vanderhoff stressed the importance of following safety guidelines, saying that if a person plans on spending time with others inside, like at a Thanksgiving dinner, they should wear a face mask and consider cracking a window to help with ventilation.

“The science is absolutely clear,” Vanderhoff said.

Two health orders went into effect this week, one requiring businesses to enforce mask mandates in their stores and another prohibiting dancing and self-serve buffets, among other restrictions, at wedding receptions, funerals and other banquet hall events.

For residents who do not have a mask, the Clark County Emergency Management Agency will host a free mask distribution event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday in the parking lot of George Rogers Clark Park located at 930 S. Tecumseh Rd.

“As COVID-19 case numbers continue to increase, it’s time for Clark County to double down on what we’ve learned since early March wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your social distance, sanitize your home,” a statement from the county said.

In total, Ohio reported 312,443 cases and 5,772 deaths of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to ODH. Clark County had 4,327 cases, 110 deaths and five probable deaths.

As of Tuesday, all of Ohio’s 88 counties met the CDC’s definition for high incidence of COVID-19, DeWine said. Putnam County has the highest incident rate in the state, with 1,323.1 cases per 100,000 people over the last week.

Clark County came in at number 10 on the state’s list for county’s with the highest incidence of the virus, with 795.8 cases per 100,000.

3: Weeks the curfew will be in effect

10 p.m.- 5 a.m.: Hours of curfew in Ohio

Nov. 19: Day curfew begins