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DeWine Lays Out Plan To Open Ohio Businesses Starting Friday

Ohio Channel screenshot/@GovMikeDeWine on Twitter

After almost five full weeks of a stay-at-home order that closed down thousands of businesses in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has unveiled his plans to allow some of those enterprises to open up again on Friday.

As DeWine began his press conference, the state posted 712 confirmed deaths, including 25 new deaths (up from 16 on Sunday), and 15,699 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 339 new cases (down from 377 on Sunday).

DeWine said it'll start Friday with what he calls a “health care opening”, where all health procedures that can be done without an overnight stay in a hospital will be allowed again. He also said dentists and veterinarians will be able to be up and running again then as well.

On Monday, May 4, DeWine said manufacturing, distribution and construction services that did not shut down can reopen again, and offices can reopen too. His five protocols for all businesses include a "no mask, no work, no service, no exception” requirement for employees and clients/customers at all times.

DeWine also said office personnel should work from home if possible.

On Tuesday, May 12, consumer, retail and service businesses can open. DeWine said all employees and customers will wear masks, though - he's not mandating them, but said anyone who goes into one of these settings will have to wear one.

The stay at home order that is set to expire on May 1 will still be in place, DeWine said, but will be modified, since people will be going back to work.  But he noted that the ban on more than 10 people gathering together remains. And restaurants, bars, daycares, gyms are not included in the first phase of reopening.

The state has repeatedly said it has limited testing, and some reports have shown Ohio is near the bottom of all states in tests administered per capita. DeWine announced on Friday that the state will go from an average of about 3,700 tests a day to 22,000 tests daily in the next four weeks because of new agreements made with Thermo Fisher to produce more reagent and ROE Dental Labs to manufacture more swabs.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said it’s important for Ohio to look at the virus as a public health issue, that it takes everyone doing their part as individuals to help everyone’s well being.

“Your health and well-being is never a zero sum game,” Acton said.

DeWine's announcement came after a plan was released from the Ohio House's 2020 Economic Task Force, which has been hearing from business owners via videoconference for more than two weeks.

That plan says that "all businesses can and should begin opening on or before May 1" and that "in Ohio, we believe we are now past that stage of concern" of overwhelming the health care system. The plan has 12 principles and strongly recommends employers and customers to follow CDC guidelines, but doesn't have enforcement procedures. It says that Ohioans can be trusted to responsibly reopen the economy, saying that "all businesses are essential".

A majority of Republicans in the Ohio House signed onto that proposal after it was released.

Ohio House Democrats put out their own proposal with 10 areas of focus, including testing, tracing, child care, worker protection and support for business.

In those 10 areas of focus, Democrats want more details about the workforce that will be hired for contact tracing; the plan for day cares for workers who are called back to their jobs; a general election contingency plan if in-person voting is at risk in the fall; and a clear plan from the state with regard to how to reopen the state to everyone.

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