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Gov. Mike DeWine: Reopening all of Ohio's economy right now would be 'totally irresponsible'

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is pushing back on the idea that he should reopen all of the state's economy on May 1.

On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced how the state will begin the process of reopening its economy in the coming weeks.

But while businesses such as construction, dentists, veterinarians and retail will be allowed to reopen at various points between May 1 and May 12, some in DeWine's own political party were hoping for a more widespread reopening of the state's economy.

Prior to DeWine's announcement on Monday, House Republicans in Ohio signed a proposal calling for the reopening of every business in the state this coming Friday, May 1. Titled the Open Ohio Responsibly Framework, the initiative has been signed by 32 state Republican representatives.

Asked about the opposition his own plan might receive, DeWine pushed back against those wanting totally reopen the state's economy as it continues to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"To throw the doors open on May 1 and say, 'Get rid of the stay at home order. Get rid of the distancing. Get rid of everything' would be totally irresponsible," DeWine said. "I have an obligation as the governor of this state to do two things right now at work every day: get people back to work and keep them safe. That would not be consistent with keeping people safe."

As DeWine went on to explain, the only reason he believes the state is in a position to begin the process of reopening its economy is that Ohioans "have done a bang-up job" following the physical distancing guidelines he has put in place in response to the coronavirus. And should Ohio reverse course now, DeWine believes it would negate all of the progress it has made to this point.

"If Ohioans go back to business as usual, this thing is going to go straight back up. The curve is going to go straight back up, we're going to have more Ohioans die. And so I'm not going to do that," DeWine said. "I'm trying to balance the harm from the economy, understanding also that for business to really come back, people have to feel safe. And so, Ohioans have to feel safe. That means employees have to feel safe; that means customers have to feel safe.

"The way we are doing this today is the best guarantee we can have that Ohioans will feel safe that they can start back in into retail, go into the stores, that there's protections there in place for them and that they can go back to work and that their employer has got rules and regulations, standards that really have been put forward by the business community. But the best practices that we know of so they can go back to work, that's how we get Ohioans back to work."

On Monday, DeWine announced that the following businesses will be allowed to reopen between May 1 and May 12:

Among the businesses allowed to reopen between now and May 12 are:

  • A healthcare opening allowing all medical procedures that don't require an overnight hospital stay, beginning on May 1. Nonessential medical procedures have been prohibited in Ohio since March 17.
  • Dentists and veterinarians will also be allowed to reopen on May 1.
  • Manufacturing, distribution and construction will be allowed to resume on Monday, May 4. All employees and clients will be required to follow safety practices, including wearing masks, conducting daily health assessments and a limited capacity of 50 percent of the businesses' fire code.
  • General office buildings will be allowed to reopen on May 4. Companies are asked to have employees still work from home as much as possible.
  • Consumer retail and services will be allowed to reopen on May 12. All employees and customers will be required to wear facial coverings.

Meanwhile, gyms, restaurants, salons and daycare centers will remain closed until further notice.

While the state's current stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 1, DeWine also announced that it will officially remain in place. Additionally, gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited.

As of Monday, Ohio has had 16,325 positive coronavirus cases, including 3,232 hospitalizations, 978 ICU admissions and 753 deaths. Dating back to the discovery of Ohio's first positive coronavirus case on March 9, DeWine has put a number of measures in place to encourage physical distancing, including a stay-at-home order since March 23.

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