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Columbus restaurant owners react to curfew extension

Columbus restaurant owners react to curfew extension

Jack McLaughlin

Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew, which was set to expire in only two days, won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. 

Although the state has yet to release additional details on how much longer it will stay in effect, Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a Thursday, Jan. 21 press conference that the state will be extending the curfew.

“Unfortunately, it’s going to have to stay. We’ve seen where the numbers are, we’ve got it down for a few days, but we’re still at a very high level,” DeWine said. “We would love to get rid of it; next step will probably be to take it to 11 o’clock, but we’re just, we’re not there.” 

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No further details on when an 11 p.m. curfew could happen were given. 

Ohio has a total of 746,398 confirmed COVID cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s website. Franklin County has a total of 100,046 of confirmed and probable cases. 

DeWine also cited the new strains of the virus, one of which is present in Ohio, as another reason the state plans to maintain the curfew.

“If you heard from [Ohio Chief Medical Officer] Dr. Vanderhoff two days ago, he talked about this new strain, and that is a concern, that this will become more dominant in Ohio, and more contagious,” DeWine said.

Members of the hospitality industry, like Nathan Klein, co-owner of Parsons North Brewing Co. in German Village, will continue to be impacted by the curfew. 

Though Parsons North has closed its taproom (The outfit currently offers carryout beer for purchase), Klein said the brewery is still affected in other ways. Since the curfew was enacted, late-night establishments have been buying less of their beer, as they’re simply unable to stay open long enough to sell larger quantities.

“It does seem like something is working, but the reason behind that, it’s hard to tell,” Klein said of the curfew. “Informal gatherings seem like they’re a main cause of the spread, but you can’t regulate those. Businesses, you can regulate, so that’s what happens,” 

Tony Tanner, who owns Cleaver and The Butcher & Grocer in Grandview, said that while he understands the necessity of the curfew, he takes umbrage with the state’s constantly changing policies and poor communication on many important issues. 

“The truth is, I’ve had to stop watching the press conferences, [because] everything changes so quickly anyway. If you own a business you have to figure out how you’re going to recreate your business every six to eight weeks; it’s just a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Some of the local spots being hit the hardest are those, such as Cleaver, in possession of a liquor license that would allow them to operate until 2 a.m. under normal circumstances. 

“The vast majority of restaurants and bars are doing everything right. Why we continue to be the villain and the only industry that really gets chosen as the problem is troubling for everyone,” Tanner said. “Those that aren’t complying, of course they should be punished, but to punish all of them is a problem.”

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