Coronavirus: Gov. DeWine outlines ways businesses will begin to reopen

COLUMBUS — Before joining a phone call between governors and the president, Gov. Mike DeWine laid out some of the steps that will be taken when businesses begin to reopen.

The governor said the target for beginning to reopen businesses will be May 1, and it will be a gradual process.

Also, any reopening will happen only if Ohio can continue to “flatten the curve,” which will be measured by the number of positive cases and hospitalizations. The governor said it is as though we are fighting a two-front war; we are fighting the virus and fighting to get the economy going again.

“We must get this right because the stakes are very high. If we don’t do it right, the consequences are horrendous,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and an economic group of advisers are working on ways closed businesses can be opened again.

DeWine said businesses that can open again need to follow safety protocols, and he pointed to the work done by RPM, a Medina-based company that produces industrial products worldwide. He pointed to key actions RPM has taken, including regular checks of PPE stock, screening employees for illness, and enforcing social distancing.

The governor said any company that is open or that opens again must take steps to do so safely.

“It is so very important for businesses to keep their employees safe, and to keep their customers safe,” DeWine said. Guidelines will be established and those businesses or industries that can demonstrate they can keep employees and customers safe will be the first to reopen.

He did not make it immediately clear which businesses those are likely to be.

When the pandemic restrictions begin to be lifted, the governor made a point of saying that it won’t be a case of going back to exactly how things were before the pandemic. “The world we are going to see is a different world,” he said, with masks a common sight and distancing guidelines a part of daily life.

“We enter a time when this is a new reality,” said the governor. “This is going to last until we are done with COVID, until we have a vaccine.”

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