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'These are first steps,' said DeWine, outlining initial reopening plan set for May

Posted at 2:00 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 17:47:03-04

The first step to reopening Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic will involve reopening non-emergency medical facilities.

Later in May, construction, distribution and manufacturing industries will be able to reopen and, later still in May, retail facilities will be permitted to reopen with adherence to a list of strict requirements.

DeWine said the only industries that will be cleared to fully reopen on May 1 will be healthcare facilities that provide non-emergency treatment or care. Dentists, veterinarians and other physicians will be able to move "full steam ahead," he said. It is, however, not a requirement to reopen if a business does not feel comfortable or is facing a shortage of PPE, DeWine later added in response to a question.

Elective surgeries and any procedure that require an overnight stay are still not allowed, though DeWine said there are still exceptions for life-saving treatments, cancer treatments and any procedure intended to save a life, limb or organ. Reopening the medical field for purely elective surgeries will be open to evaluation later on, as access to PPE and testing changes, DeWine said.

"I don't think I have to tell any Ohioan the importance of moving forward," said DeWine. "My heart aches for the business men and women who have not been able to work, who are looking at savings going down every day, the people who work in those businesses, people who are unemployed. One cannot overstate the tragedy of this. So, we've got to get moving."

On May 4, manufacturing, distribution and construction industries will be allowed to fully reopen. There are strict parameters, including mandatory facial coverings, mandatory disinfecting between shifts and maintaining social distancing rules throughout shifts.

DeWine said businesses will not be allowed to have more than 50% of their facility's fire code capacity on site at one time.

On May 12, consumer, retail and services industries will be allowed to reopen, with similar restrictions. Businesses must adhere to social distancing, limit customers inside buildings, provide sanitizer and disinfect surfaces and workspaces between shifts.

DeWine said, while he is not mandating that everyone wear facial coverings at all times in public, customers need to wear them when they are inside a retail facility and employees are mandated to wear them while working.

"When you put that on, you're protecting the other person," said DeWine. "So, when two people do that, each person is protecting the other one."

Every retail location that reopens must be able to follow the protocols set down by the state, DeWine said.

Notably, industries left off the list of industries allowed to reopen in May include restaurants, bars, gyms and hair salons. DeWine said the stay-at-home order will also remain in place, although people will be allowed to leave home to go to any business allowed to open, either for work or shopping.

Restrictions on gatherings will also remain. DeWine said there will still be no more than 10 people gathering in a space at one time allowed.

Those who can work from home in any industry allowed to reopen are still recommended to do so to help maintain social distancing and keep the amount of people inside a facility to a minimum.

"We don't want to go back," he said. "We don't want to open things up and then have to fall back. We don't want to see a huge spike in hospitalizations. We don't want to see a huge spike in cases."