COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine had a sobering message for bars during his Thursday COVID-19 update. He says coronavirus outbreaks have come from bars in Columbus, Athens, Cleveland, Athens, Henry County, Lawrence County, Medina, and Sandusky.
“We have had outbreaks we know that have come from bars,” he said.
Typically the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) does checks on bars. Now its agents are also checking to see if establishments are following the rules when it comes to being open amid the pandemic. OIU Agent in Charge Michelle Thourot virtually joined the governor’s Thursday briefing.
“What I’m happy to report is we’re seeing a large number of compliance,” she said.
She also described some of what agents are finding when bars are not following the rules.
“Patrons are shoulder to shoulder, there’s absolutely no attempt to follow the division of health orders, there’s no mask wearing by employees, there’s absolutely no social distancing, people are congregating in large numbers,” she said. “People are pretty much running their businesses like they would have in February unfortunately.”
According to Thourout, last weekend 10 establishments across the state were issued violation notices. She says the first round of cases being heard by the liquor commission is happening between August 3-7.
NBC4 also reached out to Columbus Public Health (CPH) about this issue. CPH says an outbreak is defined as two or more cases. According to a spokesperson, CPH is aware of outbreaks at 10 bars and restaurants with all but one of those outbreaks being among employees.
So far CPH has done 2,656 complaint investigations of all kinds of businesses and has seen a 95 percent compliance rate. CPH has given 119 warning letters.