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Restaurant group expects safety to be at the top of the menu when doors reopen

Posted at 8:24 PM, Apr 17, 2020

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

CINCINNATI - The co-founder of the Thunderdome Restaurant Group has been working on a plan to reopen while assuming a new normal on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

What will that look like?

Safety first, Joe Lanni told WCPO 9.

“We know that they’re going to require us to do some kind of social distancing,” said Lanni, whose restaurants include Pepp and Delores, The Eagle, Bakersfield and more. “We know that they’re going to require us to have masks available and new types of things. The things that we either know or are pretty certain are going to occur, we’re starting a plan around.”

Lanni said he's considering other options as well.

“Are we going to go to reservations because that will be a better situation than trying to man this massive wait list and keep people at socially responsible distancing?” Lanni wondered aloud. “We’re leaning way into technology.”

“The workplace is going to change,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in announcing a phased approach to restart the economy beginning May 1. But DeWine said businesses have to show they can reopen safely. Besides social distancing, that could include having personal protective equipment (PPE), temperature screenings and more.

“For the companies to come back, we want to make sure that they’re able to assure this for their employees, and those that are retail, for their customers,” DeWine said.

In Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb has a May goal, too, but no specific date set.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear also hasn’t given a definite date.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.