Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addresses COVID-19 numbers. (Photo: Screengrab from The Ohio Channel)
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COLUMBUS – Ohio businesses could find out later today whether they’ll have to limit hours to control spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is mulling a curfew on certain businesses from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The Republican governor has been discussing such a move with Ohio business groups, but he has received pushback about late-night closings, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks, and who asked not to be identified, told The Dispatch and The Enquirer.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered bars, restaurants and gyms in his state to close at 10 p.m. starting last week. California is also considering a curfew for some businesses.
Currently, establishments with a liquor license must stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and patrons must finish their beverages by 11 p.m., but they can stay open later than that.
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Last week, DeWine said he would re-evaluate Ohio’s situation this Thursday and possibly close bars, restaurants and fitness centers. Although Monday’s 7,268 newly reported cases was less than numbers seen in recent days, it was still greater than the seven-day moving average of 6,833 new cases a day.
Ohio again set a record for COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 3,387 patients occupying hospital beds statewide. The coronavirus test positivity rate was 12.5% on Sunday, the most recent day that information is available. The seven-day average was 7% two weeks prior and 5.7% the week before that.
For weeks, DeWine has shared anecdotes about outbreaks linked to weddings, funerals and social gatherings.
“We have seen great tragedy associated with such events,” DeWine said in a statement accompanying a revised order on social gatherings. “It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”
Hospital leaders said last week that they think bars and restaurants have not been the source of much of the spread. Yet bars, restaurants and gyms pose a threat because they involve people indoors for an extended period of time during which a mask cannot be worn.
The Ohio Restaurant Association pushed back on DeWine’s assertion that they pose a risk and said closing indoor dining again would lead to permanent business closures.
“Any discussion of another restaurant closure is inconsistent with any science or contact tracing data that we have been provided, which continues to detail that the greatest risk of transmission, is occurring in unregulated private gatherings,” association president John Barker said in a statement.
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