Outdoor restaurants to resume patio dining in reopening move


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio restaurants had the option beginning Friday to offer outdoor dining, the next step toward resuming normal business operations under Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s state reopening plan.

DeWine has said that 90% of the state’s economy will be back online this weekend with Ohioans having returned to offices, factories, construction jobs and retail stores, and now outdoor eating. In-person dining can resume on May 21.

The governor and Health Director Dr. Amy Acton made it clear at a Thursday briefing that Ohioans must still take numerous precautions from wearing masks to frequent hand-washing to proper social distancing.

“This is a time when we’ve got to really continue to do that,” DeWine said. “Even as people move around more, they’ve got to even be more cautious.”

Restaurants had the option to provide takeout food during the pandemic, but even so, four in 10 restaurants closed since the stay-at-home orders began and 3% won’t reopen, the Ohio Restaurant Association said Thursday.

Nearly half of Ohio restaurants experienced economic losses of more than 70% and more than half of the state’s 585,000 food service employees were laid off or furloughed, the association said.

The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,534, an increase of 51 from a day earlier, state health officials said Thursday. The number of confirmed and probable cases topped 26,000, and hospitalizations exceeded 4,700, the Ohio Department of Health said.

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