(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has issued a Director's Order that will close all Ohio bars and restaurants to in-house patrons, effective at 9:00 p.m. today, March 15, 2020. Restaurants with take-out and delivery options will still be able to operate those services, even as their dining rooms are temporarily closed.
The order was issued ahead of the St. Patrick's Day holiday, which commonly would attract large groups of people to bars and restaurants across the state. This would make "social distancing" impossible in many circumstances. This is known by healthcare providers to be among the most effective ways to slow the spread of the disease, due to the high rate and speed of transmission in COVID-19.
“Our goal is for everyone to get through this," said Governor Mike DeWine. "Our hope is that next St. Patrick’s Day, everyone will be there and that they’ll have the opportunity to live their life and live their American dream. But, if people are not around, they can’t do that.”
Also announced were a number of aggressive steps the administration is taking to offer assistance to Ohio businesses and individuals impacted by these and other changes, all of which aim to slow the spread of Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
ENHANCED UNEMPLOYMENT AID FOR OHIOANS:
The Governor will tomorrow issue an executive order, which will grant the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) with the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation suspending the normal 1-week waiting period.
This order will also give relief to applicants who are not offered paid leave through their job, as well as those who have been quarantined by a medical professional, their employer, or whose employers must temporarily close. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work.
ONE-TIME LIQUOR BUYBACK:
The Ohio Department of Commerce will immediately begin offering a one-time liquor buyback option to support bars and restaurants. This will especially aid those establishments that have stocked up on high-proof liquor ahead of the St. Patrick's Day holiday for which they now have no use, due to their closure to in-house patrons.
Bars and restaurants wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should return their unopened, high-proof liquor products (obtained within the past 30 days) to the agency where they purchased the product. This opportunity is also extended to those with temporary (F2) permits for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020. If a business has questions about this program, they should reach out directly to the Liquor Enterprise Service Center (LESC) at 1(877)812-0013 or by emailing OhioLiquorInfo@Com.Ohio.gov.
SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:
The Ohio Development Services Agency is preparing to submit an application in the coming week to qualify Ohio for the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program provides low-interest loans up to $2 million in order to help businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue during the state of emergency.
Non profit organizations in Ohio will also be eligible for low-interest loans through the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
In order to complete the state's application, businesses impacted by the current public health crisis should immediately send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.gov. Additional information on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster.