Governor Offers Hope by Setting May 1 as Target Date to Reopen Some Businesses

By Keith Lake, Ohio Chamber of Commerce

There is light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, after all. Yesterday, during his daily COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he is targeting May 1 as the date to reopen business in Ohio. This is much-anticipated and welcome good news for the tens of thousands of Ohio businesses that are struggling from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. It is also good news because it signals that the Governor believes the worst of the health crisis is behind us, or will be by May 1.

Beyond setting a target date, Gov. DeWine wasn’t prepared yesterday to offer additional details, but indicated he will be relying partly on advice being given by the Economic Advisory Board he created earlier this month. He did say, however, that not every business will be permitted to reopen on May 1, but rather that it’ll happen in phases. He did not give any guidance as to the timing of the phases.

What is clear is that, for any business to reopen, it will have to be able to protect the health of both its employees and its customers. This likely means that mandatory health and safety protocols are forthcoming, perhaps measures comparable to the ones with which businesses currently operating under the existing “Stay at Home Order” must comply.

Though there are obviously many more details employers need to hear and understand, by setting a target reopen date that is two weeks away, employers will hopefully have the lead time they’ll need to recall furloughed employees back to work, restock supplies and raw materials, reengage their supply and distribution chains, implement health and safety protocols and make other necessary preparations.

The Ohio Chamber will be working with Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted over the next two weeks to assist with how we can restart our economy in a way that also protects the health of Ohioans. Because it’s time to get Ohio’s economy moving again.

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