Coronavirus Update: Gyms and Movie Theaters, Eviction Hearings, Utility Suspensions & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
Over the last few days, a few announcements have drastically changed Central Ohioans’ “new normal,” including the first case of COVID-19 in Columbus and first three in Franklin County, the closure of all Ohio restaurants and bars other than carry-out service and the postponing of Ohio’s primary election.
Other announcements have been made, including the closing of gyms and movie theaters, utility shut-off suspensions, the status of eviction hearings and more.
On Monday, March 16 Governor Mike DeWine ordered gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, bowling alleys, public recreation centers, indoor water parks and trampoline parks to close by end of the business day.
Other major closures include Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which previously only closed indoor exhibits, and Hollywood Casino, following the mass gathering order set by the governor barring more than 100 people in any one room at the same time. The order will now be modified based on the Center for Disease Control’s previous recommendation of no more than 50 people, and new recommendations Monday, March 16 from the Trump administration reportedly of no more than 10 people.
Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted both aimed to dispel any rumors that grocery stores would be closed, nor will pharmacies and banks be closed.
American Electric Power announced it would temporarily suspend disconnections for nonpayment during the coronavirus outbreak in a Facebook post.
Columbia Gas has also suspended shutoffs for nonpayment and will suspend late payment charges until May 1. Customers who indicate an impact or hardship due to COVID-19 are being offered flexible payment plans.
As a part of the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, high-speed internet providers have also pledged that they will not terminate service to any residential or small business customer for failure to pay and waive late fees for customers during the pandemic. These providers include AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, TracFone Wireless, US Cellular and Verizon, among others. A regularly updated list can be found here.
Governor Mike DeWine has issued an order to grant The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation suspending the required one-week waiting period under Ohio law, set after filing for benefits. Find more information at www.unemployment.ohio.gov.
Find resources specific to the restaurant industry here.
Evictions and Other Court Hearings
In a press release, the Franklin County Municipal Court announced that all scheduled court hearings will be continued to a later date, with the exception of prisoner cases. That includes eviction hearings, arraignment courts and small claims cases, which will not be conducted for at least the next three weeks. Scheduled hearings will be rescheduled with a notice of the new court date sent out via mail.
Court arraignment sessions for prisoners will remain open, however friends and family members are asked not to attend. The Municipal Court has said it will attempt to minimize the number of prisoners in the county jail, to the extent that the safety of the community or any alleged victims are not jeopardized.
Jurors should not report for jury service unless otherwise requested, and those who have scheduled weddings at the courthouse are being asked to reschedule.
School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two waiver requests sent by the governor’s office to continue school breakfast and lunch programs. Every child under 18, regardless of income, will have the chance to be provided with “grab and go” meals. Meals will mostly be distributed through school districts but some nonprofits are involved as well.
Columbus City Schools sent out a map of where and when any child 18 or younger could get school breakfast and lunch meals. The full map and list of locations can be found here.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center announced that inpatients and outpatients at all Ohio State health care facilities are allowed one visitor, who will be screened for symptoms, travel and exposure history. For hospitalized patients, no more than one visitor is allowed, nor are visitors under 16 with the exception of end of life situations and minor patients.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital announced that patients would only be allowed two visitors, and that visitors must be healthy and at least 18 years or older. Parents are included in the two-visitor limit. The hospital’s Sibling Clubhouse will also be closed.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss prohibited visitors to the state psychiatric hospitals, though video visitation will be available for patients.
And an additional order has been issued for community jails and corrections facilities throughout Ohio that prohibits visitors.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.