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DeWine announces compliance checks for bars and restaurants

Governor said this came as result of reports of violations of health orders

COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine said that the state is planning an enforcement surge to make sure that restaurants and bars that have reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic are following orders on social distancing.

“The distancing is the key thing,” DeWine said at his Monday news conference, of businesses reopening and said reports since businesses have reopening have shown the majority are complying.

“Most restaurants are doing an amazing job and most bars are doing an amazing job,” he said.

However, the governor said there were photos and reports on social media of some businesses, mostly bars, not complying and customers not staying six feet apart.

“It’s clear we had some outliers and people not doing what they are supposed to,” he said.

DeWine said the photos of violations made national news.

“People running the bars were not taking responsibility,” he said. “They have to do that. If they cannot control things, they should make the decision not to reopen or they need to close. This jeopardizes our ability to move forward as a state.”

DeWine law enforcement and health officers will be working together, coordinated by the Ohio Investigative Unit to “surge in a and conduct safety compliance checks.”

DeWine said those in violation could receive citations, which could result in revocation of liquor licenses or working with local prosecutors on possible criminal citations “for these bad actors.”

DeWine said it is imperative that a safe environment exists for the economy to be reopened successfully.

“People need to feel the rules are being followed if they go out,” he said, stating his administration had encouraged businesses to reopen.

He said the distancing orders came from a working group, which included representative of the restaurant and bar industry.

DeWine said businesses need to maintain a six-foot space between customers and employees and that group reservations should not exceed 10 people.

The governor also stressed that customers “should remain seated when consuming beer, wine, liquor or food on premises.”

At his news conference, DeWine also discussed visitation to people in hospitals.

“This is a tough situation, when hospitals are dealing with COVID-19 and loved ones want to see loved ones,” he said. “We have no rules and Dr. Acton has issued no rules on visitors.”

The governor said those decisions are being set by individual hospitals.

“They are going about it how they think is best,” he said. “But I want everyone to understand we have no rules and have nothing to do with that.”

Ohio’s hospitals were allowed to resume nonessential surgeries and procedures on May 1.