In a few short weeks, Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders will be no more.
And while the change will affect residents across the state, restaurant and entertainment industry businesses are now preparing for a new normal.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine yesterday evening announced that he asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most pandemic health orders on June 2. That means that measures such as facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events will go away, though measures specifically relating to nursing homes and assisted living facilities will remain in effect.
While some business owners welcome the removal of the health orders, the issue of staffing challenges still remains in play.
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Tony Tanner, owner of The Butcher & Grocer and Cleaver, expressed appreciation for DeWine’s announcement, but also said his biggest focus now is staffing.
“There are a lot of people who have left this industry, a lot of people who didn’t come back to work,” Tanner said. “Hopefully this will motivate people to come back and start working. We’ve got the jobs, we just need people to get out there and get them.”
Faith Pierce, who co-owns Yellow Brick Pizza and The Oracle, said Yellow Brick is going to slowly ramp back up and bring staff in slowly. For The Oracle though, she isn’t sure what will come next.
“We don’t have the staff even if we wanted to reopen everything,” Pierce said. “We would never be able to accommodate everyone, and it would just be a mess.”
While some restaurant owners are dealing with staffing issues, over in the entertainment industry, the abolishment of health orders represents a cautious transition to holding the events that people have missed so much.
Rob Chafin, who co-owns Crunchwerks and Summit Music Hall, said he’s excited to get back to holding full-capacity shows and will proceed with “cautious optimism” while urging everyone to get vaccinated.
“Everyone wants to get back to a sense of normalcy, and the return of live concerts really helps solidify that for a lot of people,” Chafin said. “We just want to make sure this transition back to full capacity is done safely and responsibly, so we can kick off the roaring 20s right and take the Columbus music scene to the next level.”
Gary O’Brien, director of communications for Columbus Arena Sports and Entertainment, which includes Nationwide and the Schottenstein Center, said he and staff will be evaluating DeWine’s statements made during his address.
“The safety of our guests, staff, athletes, and artists remain our top priority,” he said.
Jack McLaughlin contributed to this story