By Andrew Welsh-Higgins and John Seewer, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio retail businesses were set to reopen Tuesday following a nearly two-month-long shutdown ordered by Gov. Mike DeWine to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The Republican governor says the move means that 90% of the state’s economy will be restarted by week’s end, with Friday’s expected reopening of barbershops, hair salons and outdoor restaurant dining.
The governor is making mask wearing mandatory for most store and business employees, and strongly recommended for customers. Individual businesses can decide whether customers should wear masks.
“I’m confident that we can in fact do two things at once,” DeWine said Monday. “We can protect Ohioans, we can continue to do the social distancing, do all the things that we need to do, at the same time work to open up our economy, open up more businesses.”
Full restaurant dining returns on May 21, with social distancing between customers strongly recommended. Gatherings in large spaces inside bars and restaurants, such as for dancing, are still prohibited.
Among businesses still awaiting word on when they can open their doors: day cares, gyms and tattoo parlors.
The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus in Ohio has reached 1,357, state health officials said Monday.
At least 1,236 deaths were confirmed by the Ohio Department of Health and another 121 were considered probable under guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of confirmed and probable cases neared 25,000 and hospitalizations topped 4,400, the department said.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Seewer reported from Toledo.