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Gov. Mike DeWine threatens to close Ohio's bars, restaurants, and fitness centers as COVID-19 numbers continue to spike

DeWine says the state will make a determination by November 19.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio continuing to reach record levels, Gov. Mike DeWine has let it be known that he is prepared to take drastic measures to stop the spread of the virus. 

During a statewide address on Wednesday evening, DeWine stated that if the number of coronavirus cases does not decrease, he will be forced to close Ohio's restaurants, bars, and fitness centers.

"I am very well aware of the burden this will place on employees and the 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," the governor stated. 

DeWine said the state will make a determination one week from Thursday on November 19. 

"My fellow Ohioans, I know you’re tired and weary. I know you want this to be over.  But in words often attributed to Winston Churchill during some of the darkest times in World War II, “When you’re going through hell, keep going!” Tonight, I ask you to keep going," DeWine said during his closing remarks.

You can watch Gov. DeWine's remarks in the player below:

As the Governor spoke, David Andras was watching every word. As the owner of three World Gym fitness centers in Brooklyn, Sheffield Village and Akron, Andras made sure to watch the governor's entire address, and braced for the possibility of a second shutdown.

"Going through the first time, we prepared ourselves in case this happens again, so it really is just a waiting game," said Andras. He estimated that his gyms lost 20-percent of business during the pandemic, but said he feels fortunate to have been able to retain his employees.

Meanwhile, at restaurants across Northeast Ohio on Wednesday night, there was a feeling of renewed concern, as word spread about DeWine's threatened shutdown.

"We're all kind of scared again," said Mia Cieslak, manager at D'Agnese's Cafe and Restaurant in Broadview Heights. The restaurant installed plexiglass separators, instituted disinfection routines for surfaces and menus, and is providing masks to all of its customers and employees. "We are doing all that we can to be safe," said Cieslak, adding that she's not sure how devastating a second shutdown would be. "It's very hard, and with the numbers rising, we wish everyone would wear the masks," she said.

Andras echoed that sentiment, urging people to help local businesses by following health guidelines in order to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

"I hope everyone listens to the guidelines and does what they need to do, so hopefully we stay open next week," he said.