COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Businesses across Ohio are looking to the next phase as the state continues to deal with COVID-19. On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the creation of an economic advisory board to help with the next phase, which will involve reopening some businesses. The plan is for that phase to start on May 1.
The process will likely look different from business to business depending on how they’ve dealt with the effects of COVID-19 to this point. Gov. DeWine says the state will likely be looking at businesses that have been able to stay open to see what’s working.
“Everyone wants to get back to as normal as possible pretty much as soon as possible,” said Scott Ridgway, Manager at Roush Hardware in Dublin. “But I think it’d be a great thing to get that as soon as we can while still being safe. Of course you don’t want to rush anything, but it’d be nice to get back to normal.”
Hardware stores have been allowed to stay open since they are considered essential under the current stay-at-home order. Roush has set a cap for the number of customers allowed in at once and made other changes to comply with the order. Ridgway says the store is looking forward to when regular customer flow is allowed again.
“We’re excited to get back to normal hours, more customer flow,” he said. “Obviously, early spring is the best season for us, that’s when we’re busy.”
For other businesses, the next phase and reopening, whenever that does come, will be more challenging.
“Reopening a restaurant is just like opening a restaurant,” said Matthew Heaggans, Co-Owner of Ambrose & Eve and Preston’s Burger Joint. “We will have to stock and staff, it’s not an inconsiderable amount of money and effort and time that are going to go into it.”
After restaurants were ordered closed to sit-down customers, both his establishments offered carry out for a couple of weeks. Heaggans says it was not sustainable so they ended up closing. He’s applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program loan but funding for that program has run out. Congress is set to negotiate next steps to further fund it, but Heaggans has not gotten his loan yet.
“It’s kind of a weird place to be,” he said. “We don’t know about the loans, we don’t know when we’re going to be able to reopen and we don’t know what the rules for our reopening are going to be.”
Once more plans are finalized, more details about how and what the gradual reopening process will look like are expected to be released.