Local Businesses React to Potential Shutdown on Social Media
On Wednesday, November 11, Governor Mike DeWine spoke on the rapid increase of Ohio’s newly positive COVID-19 cases, noting the critical time residents are in, the need for Ohioans to wear masks and limit gatherings, and what could happen if the state continues to see high COVID-19 positivity.
“What each Ohioan does in his or her own life impacts every citizen and every place we desperately want and need to keep open– our schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and businesses,” said Governor DeWine. “If the current trend continues and cases keep increasing, we will be forced to make these closures.”
“I am very well aware of the burden this will place on employees and owners, but these are places where it is difficult or impossible to maintain mask-wearing, which we know now is the chief way of slowing this virus,” he continued.
Wednesday’s address came with news of two additional COVID-19 related orders, including a revised mask order that required stores to post signs mandating mask-wearing and mask compliance checks that could result in a store’s closure for subsequent violations.
Reacting on social media, many business owners have asked their customers to take the virus seriously, wear a mask, and limit gatherings.
“Because of COVID-positive employees, we have been without revenue for two weeks now and, quite frankly, that’s tough to overcome for us, but we aren’t giving up,” said Tony Tanner, co-owner of CLEAVER gastropub in Grandview Heights.
Tanner, currently quarantined after contracting COVID-19 himself, wondered how the business will plan for the next week with a possible shutdown impeding. He said the restaurant was not planning to open until after Wednesday, once the governor decides what to do.
Other businesses have expressed frustration with the singling-out of the restaurant industry as cases are increasingly linked with private mass gatherings, as noted by DeWine himself.
“This is bad. There are so many things we can blame for the rising numbers,” said Scott Heimlich, owner of restaurant Barcelona in German Village. “But to put the blame on the restaurant industry when there is no substantial evidence to support this is outrageous.”
“I have 55 team members that rely on my restaurant for their livelihood and their families. Shutting us down again will affect them drastically. And I can’t do anything to help them,” he continued, also encouraging customers to voice their frustrations by emailing the governor. “Actions have to be done across the board instead [of] picking one group while ignoring everything else. His asking you nicely to wear your mask and stop the parties is not working.”
Heimlich noted the Ohio Restaurant Association was “fighting hard” for the industry. The association also emailed out a statement about a potential shutdown.
“We are concerned about the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and are committed to controlling the rising numbers. We are also deeply concerned for the 58% of Ohio restaurants that have indicated they may close their doors permanently if they continue operating at current capacity,” the ORA said in a statement. “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.”
“Further restrictions would be devastating to an industry that employs 585,000 Ohioans,” it continued.
The Ohio Craft Brewers Association made a similar statement.
“Even with data showing that the spread of COVID does not appear to be tied to eating and drinking establishments, even with reports that 95% or more of these establishments are following public health guidelines, the State of Ohio is planning another shutdown of breweries, bars, and restaurants,” it read. “Make no mistake: A second shutdown would almost certainly devastate our industry and force many small businesses to close their doors for good.”
In addition to bars and restaurants, fitness centers were also on the list for potential closures.
Ohio Strength owner Ryan McFadyen went as far as to say that the gym does not intend to close even if there is a shutdown, calling the potential action “arbitrary.” He also noted that months-long evidence of safe operation has “emboldened” owners.
“We have been and will continue to do our best to make this a safe space in every way we can for our members. We believe that responsible gyms like ours are essential to health — mental and physical,” he said. “We will be researching our legal rights with respect to any government orders against the fitness industry in Ohio.”
On Friday, November 13, Ohio reported 8,071 COVID-19 positive cases in 24 hours, the latest record-high number of cases.