- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2020

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced plans for some Ohio businesses to start reopening their doors on May 4, joining a growing list of governors who are relaxing coronavirus-related restrictions on business.

Mr. DeWine said manufacturing, distribution, and construction companies and general business offices can reopen starting on May 4, with retailers to follow on May 12.

“With any decision there is risk. Whatever we did today was a risk. Doing nothing is a risk,” Mr. DeWine said. “I think we found the sweet spot…but it’s a risk and I fully understand the risk.”

The reopening businesses will have to practice social distancing measures, like ensuring at least six feet of distance between people and installing barriers if that’s not possible.

Employees also have to wear face coverings while they’re working.

“We’ve gotten this far. We’ve got a ways to go. These are first steps,” Mr. DeWine said. “A lot of moving parts, a lot of things going on - this is the beginning.”

Mr. DeWine said they would encourage people to continue to work from home as much as possible.

The governor also said that starting May 1, surgeries that don’t require overnight stays will be allowed to resume.

He said modified stay-at-home orders and a limit on public gatherings to no more than 10 people will remain in place.

“So I think you can kind of see what we’re trying to do - we’re trying to ease out, we’re trying to get Ohio back working,” he said. “We need to see how this works. We need to monitor the numbers.”

He said discussions about when to reopen other businesses, like restaurants and hair salons, will be ongoing.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the state’s Department of Health, said there isn’t a single correct way to move forward.

“We still want to limit our movement,” Dr. Acton said. “We still want to stay six feet apart. We still want to selectively go out and do those errands - all those things will continue to matter and add up.”

There are more than 16,000 reported coronavirus cases and more than 700 coronavirus-related deaths in Ohio, home to about 11.7 million people.

Mr. DeWine reported that the overnight changes in cases, deaths, and hospitalizations were all below the five-day averages in the state.

“We’re not there - we haven’t had two weeks coming down, but we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

The White House had previously issued guidance that said states should see a downward trajectory in cases or positive tests as a percent of total tests over a 14-day period before proceeding to the first reopening phase.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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