Starting May 1, all health procedures or operations that do not require overnight stays can be performed as well as dental procedures and veterinary procedures, DeWine said on Twitter. Non-essential medical procedures and surgeries were halted last month to preserve masks and other personal protective equipment, as well as hospital beds and to ensure social distancing was being practiced.
From May 4, manufacturing, distribution, and construction can begin, however they must adhere to strict guidelines which include a “no mask, no work, no service, no exception” requirement for employees, clients, and customers at all times.
Office environments can also open at this time but must implement strict social distancing guidelines, including limiting capacity to 50 percent of the fire code, cleaning workplaces throughout the day, and conducting daily health assessments of employees. The governor urged businesses to continue having employees work from home if possible.
On May 12, consumer, retail, and service businesses can open but every employee will have to wear a facial covering and businesses will have to conduct daily health assessments. They will also have to limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines and if a business suspects it has a case of COVID-19, it must be immediately reported so the local health department can trace everyone who may have had contact with the patient.
“We know there is a great desire to get restaurants fully open and to get hair salons and daycares open,” DeWine said. “But we must first start down the pathway of opening things up where we thought there was less risk and a more controllable risk.”
“It’s very hard to control the environment in daycare/schools. I understand what parents are going through, but we have to start with what is easiest to control,” he added.
Other businesses that will remain closed during the first phase include bars, theaters, concert halls, indoor and outdoor public amusement centers such as bowling alleys and water parks, museums, and older adult daycare services and senior centers.
DeWine had declared a state of emergency in Ohio on March 9 and a stay-at-home order was established on March 23, which is set to expire on May 1. DeWine said the the order will remain in place and gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be prohibited.
Speaking about the reopening plans, DeWine said it would be “totally irresponsible” to just “throw the doors open on May 1 and say: ‘Get rid of the stay at home order. Get rid of the distancing. Get rid of everything.'”
“I have an obligation as the governor of this state to do two things right now at work every day: get people back to work and keep them safe. That would not be consistent with keeping people safe,” the governor said during a press conference on Monday.
“If Ohioans go back to business as usual, this thing is going to go straight back up. The curve is going to go straight back up, we’re going to have more Ohioans die. And so I’m not going to do that,” DeWine said. “I’m trying to balance the harm from the economy, understanding also that for business to really come back, people have to feel safe. And so, Ohioans have to feel safe. That means employees have to feel safe; that means customers have to feel safe,” he added.
As of April 28, Ohio has 16,325 confirmed cases and 753 deaths from the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December last year.