How will Ohio start reopening on May 1? Plan set to be released Monday

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READ THE UPDATE: On Monday, April 27, Gov. DeWine laid out the plan to begin to reopen Ohio and the timeline for phase oneClick here for the latest news on coronavirus in Ohio.

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine said details on the plan to begin gradually reopening Ohio’s economy will be released Monday.

The governor plans to begin easing stay-at-home restrictions next Friday, May 1, but the details on how that is going to happen have yet to be made public.

DeWine offered some hints, though, during his Friday update on coronavirus in Ohio.

When asked about masks and cleaning supplies and how some people are having difficulty obtaining them, the governor said the market will eventually work it out and that the state is doing everything it can to secure masks.

“Any requirement that we have, obviously, is conditioned upon people being able to secure the item, but we would hope that people would make all due diligence and effort to actually secure the item,” he said.

DeWine added his wife Fran posed the same question to him — what if people can’t find what they need to reopen?

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said there are mandated conditions and best practices for reopening.

A best practice, according to Husted, is taking the temperatures of employees to ensure they are not sick.

As far as masks, Husted said they don’t need to be surgical-grade masks and can be some type of face covering.

“Good old soap and water is one of the best things that you can do to clean your hands and clean surfaces to make them safe,” Husted added.

Previously, the DeWine administration laid out the following safeguards business must follow if they want to reopen:

  • Distancing – keeping customers and employees the recommended 6 feet apart
  • Masks – it could become commonplace to see employees and customers wearing protective masks
  • Barriers – barriers should be placed where social distancing isn’t possible, both in retail and in manufacturing where appropriate.
  • More frequent cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces
  • Employees wearing gloves and ample opportunities for employees to wash and sanitize their hands
  • Standard arrival and departure times for employees, and staggered breaks to avoid crowds
  • Working from home where available
  • Wellness checks for employees when they arrive to work
  • Limits to the number of people allowed inside a business at one time.

IN-PERSON CLASSES FOR STUDENTS CLOSED FOR REMAINDER OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

While portions of Ohio’s economy are expected to reopen gradually beginning May 1, schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

In addition, the state has yet to formulate a plan for daycare centers, even with some workers going back to work next Friday as part of the reopening plan.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced on April 20 that K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, with no decision yet as to what classrooms will look like come the fall.

“We have flattened the curve, but it remains dangerous,” DeWine said of the virus. “The situation is fluid. We now have eight or nine days straight of a fairly straight line in regard to hospitalizations, so that’s good news. We’ll feel a lot better when it starts going down.”

When asked by NBC 4’s Adrienne Robbins about reopening daycare centers at that same briefing, DeWine said a decision regarding reopening the state’s daycare centers has yet to be made, even with the May 1 gradual economic reopening on the calendar.

“We don’t, at this time… we are not ready yet to open up any daycare facilities,” he said during his coronavirus briefing Monday.

DeWine said the reason for closing the daycares in the first place was the same reason the state closed K-12 schools: to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As you have a number of kids together, and then you have them going back to their respective homes, which is a perfect recipe for spread,” he said. “That’s true with whether it’s the flu or whether it’s COVID-19.”

OHIO’S PLAN TO REOPEN THE ECONOMY

Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement last week that the Ohio economy could begin reopening on May 1 will come with some conditions to prevent a spike in COVID-19 coronavirus cases.

DeWine said there are three conditions that must be met in order for the economic restart to begin: Public health measures and compliance must be established, people most vulnerable to the disease must be protected, and businesses operate safely with safeguards in place.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s restart plan

“After May 1, things will change some, but the essential reality is that this virus will remain out there, so our lives must be guided by that,” DeWine said. “We want to make sure every individual has as much info about their own condition and what risks there are.”

Some of those safeguards outlined by the governor include:

  • Distancing – keeping customers and employees the recommended 6 feet apart
  • Masks – it could become commonplace to see employees and customers wearing protective masks
  • Barriers – barriers should be placed where social distancing isn’t possible, both in retail and in manufacturing where appropriate.
  • More frequent cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces
  • Employees wearing gloves and ample opportunities for employees to wash and sanitize their hands
  • Standard arrival and departure times for employees, and staggered breaks to avoid crowds
  • Working from home where available
  • Wellness checks for employees when they arrive to work
  • Limits to the number of people allowed inside a business at one time.

“We need to protect employees and protect customers,” DeWine said. “That’s it. Everything kind of flows from there.”

More details of the plan are expected to be announced this week, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said the state is seeing a flattened curve and the number of reported cases remains steady.

“I think it’s really important to be very realistic for the public,” she said. “We have a journey ahead. We’ve often said we’ve won the first battle, but we know as the governor mentioned today that it’s a long time before we have that vaccine in hand or potentially herd immunity…There’s a journey between now and that time. We have a road to travel, and this is a road that is unprecedented.”

And while things are expected to begin reopening May 1, there is one essential fact DeWine wants everyone to keep in mind: the virus is not going to go away.

“We have to assume that everyone we meet is carrying the virus,” DeWine said. “Because many people are walking around among us and don’t know they’re carrying the virus.”

Husted said many different businesses and the public are being listened to while formulating the plan to instill confidence in businesses, employees, and customers.

“(We want) Ohioans to feel comfortable that when May 1 comes that we’re going to have the most thoughtful restart we can possibly have,” he said.

Acton said the restart will not be a wide-open restart come May 1, saying the restart will have to inch forward.

“I do hope no one thinks it’s wide open May 1, going back to life as normal,” Acton said. “It’s really hard to hear that but we are not going back to six months ago. That’s not the reality we all face.”

She compared reopening the economy to multiple silos in which various sectors need to work together to produce the best and safest outcome.

“They’re all interrelated. It’s very hard to talk about business without childcare,” Dr. Acton said. “In each of those silos, we have to look at how can we reinvent ourselves, how can we make this less risky and open it up? And then you have to step back and look at the whole of how all those things relate to each other and what net affect they will have on the virus spread.”

Dr. Acton said as of April 21, the numbers are still plateauing and there’s no indication when that will go down. Dr. Acton said May 1 is more like a day to revisit the question of what other businesses can be added to the list of being considered “essential.”

She said all businesses can’t open and normal life can’t resume because there’s not enough testing available to ensure a safe, healthy environment.

“We know that we won’t have what is being recommended either in the president’s plan or any of the other plans that have been laid out. That testing will not get there by May 1st,” Dr. Acton said. “That’s just not possible.”

She added Ohio is doing between 2,000-4,000 tests a day during the last week, a number she says is nowhere close to being able to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re keeping those tests at such a small group of our population. We’re having to ration them basically,” she said. “More tests equals better firefighting.”

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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