COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said Friday they are asking Columbus City Council to limit the hours of bars, nightclubs and restaurants in Columbus.

The ordinance will require the impacted businesses to close for operation at 11 p.m. each evening effective Tuesday, July 28.

“Our city like many others across the country are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, and there is clear evidence of community spread – especially indoors in places where groups are gathering,” said Mayor Ginther. “We’re also seeing a clear increase among younger people, and we know that bars and nightclubs have been the source of outbreaks locally. We need to take steps now to help stop the spread of the virus. We all need to do better for the health and safety of our neighbors.”

During a news conference Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine attributed the fast spread of COVID-19 in many counties to bars and restaurants. He says coronavirus outbreaks have come from bars in Columbus, Athens, Cleveland, Athens, Henry County, Lawrence County, Medina, and Sandusky.  

“We are at a critical point in our fight against COVID-19 which continues to spread and increase in our community,” says Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “We must use every tool at our disposal to prevent the spread of disease. Shortening the time that people gather in groups will help reduce the risk not only to those who participate, but the entire community. This reduction – along with face coverings, social distancing and hand washing – will help protect health and save lives.”

The city says limiting hours can help limit exposure, because current health orders allow patrons to forgo face coverings while seated at bars and tables and eating and drinking.

According to the city, Columbus Public Health will enforce the new order which will include a warning for the first violation. A fine of $500 will be levied for a second violation and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. Repeat violations may subject owners/operators to injunctive action to close the establishment.