CINCINNATI - Some 25 restaurants at The Banks, Over-the-Rhine and downtown will be taking over the streets with expanded outdoor seating when it becomes legal again in Ohio next Friday.
Mayor John Cranley and 3CDC announced an agreement to draw customers and stimulate restaurant business at the mayor's Friday COVID-19 briefing. Restaurant owners from Taste of Belgium, Sacred Beast, Homemakers and others, hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown and hungry to reopen to diners, were there to express their support and appreciation.
The restaurants stretch from The Banks to Findlay Market, Cranley said, and the plans calls for the full closing of several streets – including part of Freedom Way – and lane closings on others. In most cases, the latter means parking lanes, Cranley said.
Here's an updated list provided by Joe Rudemiller of 3CDC Friday night. Rudemiller added Fountain Square and the Aronoff Center Plaza and said "we’re still working to finalize" the list.
Full street closure:
- 15th Street – Between Vine and Republic, Republic and Race, Race and Pleasant
- 14th Street - Between Vine and Republic, Republic and Race
- 13th Street - Between Vine and Republic
- Freedom Way - Between Vine and Joe Nuxhall, Vine and Race
- Joe Nuxhall - Between 2nd and Freedom Way
- Campbell Alley - Between Findlay and W. Elder
Partial Lane Closure:
- Race Street – Between Elder and Findlay, Court and 9th, 6th and 5th
- Vine Street – Between 15th and Central Parkway
- Walnut Street – Between 14th and Mercer
- Clay Street – Between 14th and Liberty, 13th and 12th
- Main Street – Between 12th and Central Parkway
- Broadway - 13th and 12th
- 8th Street - between Sycamore and Main
- 7th Street – Between Walnut and Main
- Fountain Square
- Aronoff Center Plaza
Rudemiller said he did not have a comprehensive list of participating restaurants.
Gov. Mike DeWine had ordered restaurants to close their dining facilities in March to try to prevent COVID-19 spread, but this week DeWine lifted the order effective May 15 for outdoor dining and May 21 for indoor dining.
Restaurants are critical to the vibrancy in our urban core. Shutting down streets & lanes to expand dining so people can come back downtown and get delicious meals will be great. About 25 locations from the Banks to Findlay Market will have healthy & safe ways to serve customers pic.twitter.com/gCFbVlvcFB
— John Cranley (@JohnCranley) May 8, 2020
After mentioning that he'd had lunch from Taste of Belgium, Cranley said he is "absolutely looking forward" to dining out with family and friends next Friday and, in answer to a question, acknowledged a concern that people have been cooped up for so long that overcrowding might result. He said he hoped customers and restaurants would cooperate and maintain social distancing.
"It's incumbent on restaurants to make customers feel safe," Cranley said. "If there's an extreme example of overcrowding, police can and will be called in."
Nevertheless, the mayor seemed to caution seniors to think twice about going out. He mentioned that the median age of COVID deaths in Ohio is 80 – "and in Cincinnati it's higher."
"The older you are, the more precautions you should take," Cranley said.
Cranley said he welcomed restaurants in other neighborhoods to explore the expanded outdoor option and directed them to contact Assistant City Manager Kelly Carr at 352-3486 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In more news out of the mayor's briefing:
- Cranley partly blamed the recent wave of shootings on the "economic anxiety" caused by COVID-19, the loss of jobs and the social impact of quarantining. "A whole bunch of young people 15 to 30 ... just have nothing to do," Cranley said. Police Chief Eliot Isaac announced a new Gun Violence Task Force to "focus on wanted individuals and hot spots." Isaac praised the homicide unit, saying it had made arrests in 70% of homicide cases this year. He said the vice and narcotics unit recently recovered three pounds of meth and 60 pounds of a meth-fentanyl-cocaine mixture, and that the gang unit had recovered 34 guns in the past four weeks.
- Cranley said he and other Ohio mayors implored DeWine on Friday to open child care centers. He said he told DeWine "it's not fair to expect people to go back to work if they don't have access to child care" – especially if they could be fired for refusing to work and lose unemployment benefits. DeWine promised an answer next week, the mayor said.
- City Health Commissioner Melba Moore reported no additional COVID deaths in the city since Wednesday's briefing, so the city death total still stands at 31. Moore implored people to continue to wear masks and keep 6 feet apart as the state reopens for business. "If we do the right things right away, maybe Mayor Cranley won't be standing here talking about rising numbers in the second wave," Moore said.