It was a big weekend for the bars and restaurants that reopened outdoor patios. Many chose not to open, and most of those that did observed social distancing. But pictures of some that didn’t were widely circulated on social media.
The Columbus health department cited one bar - Standard Hall in the Short North - after multiple reports and pictures on social media showed a crowded patio where people didn't appear to be practicing social distancing. Few masks were visible in the photos.
DeWine said bars could lose their liquor licenses if they’re not following the rules. But as restaurants prepare to offer indoor dining on Thursday, DeWine warned in an interview for this week's "The State of Ohio" that businesses could be shut down if coronavirus numbers spike or the state's protocols aren’t followed.
“If we have to do that, we will do that. I have an obligation to protect the citizens of the state of Ohio as much as much as we can protect them," DeWine said.
DeWine’s office said in a statement that businesses that disregard safety guidelines "are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced".
Statement fr @GovMikeDeWine press secretary on 1st night of open patios at bars/restaurants, some packed w customers: “Those who operate their businesses while disregarding safety guidelines...are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced.” pic.twitter.com/X6qYbtQgOA
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) May 16, 2020
The Ohio Restaurant Association said that most restaurants and bars opened following the state's e social distancing guidelines and other protocols. Many establishments elected not to reopen this weekend, though last month that group had called on DeWine to set May 15 as their potential opening date.
COVID-19 deaths in Ohio have decreased over the last two days, though there were 41 deaths reported this weekend.