COLUMBUS, Ohio — The governor of Ohio announced Thursday that he plans to begin a "new phase" of the state's coronavirus response — one that involves a transition back to some semblance of normal life — starting May 1.
The plan, which Gov. Mike DeWine reminded is not a guarantee, will look to start reopening the economy and some businesses in Ohio with very strict guidelines beginning on May 1, once the state’s current stay-at-home order expires.
DeWine provided few other details during his afternoon press conference. Schools may or may not reopen around that date; businesses may or may not need special state permission to end work-from-home policies and to bring employees back to physical office spaces.
Most concrete decisions will be finalized closer to the May 1 deadline as experts continue to monitor the state’s supply of personal protective equipment, its number of deaths and diagnoses, and its available hospital space.
Whatever happens, officials say the process will be gradual.
DeWine said the first companies to reopen would be ones that had demonstrated an ability to protect workers and enforce distancing guidelines. Masks, hand sanitizer and stringent handwashing will remain fixtures of daily life.
With many companies deemed essential that have remained open through the COVID-19 pandemic, lessons in safety, hygiene and protocol have been learned and that knowledge will be adopted as guidelines for businesses that will be allowed to reopen, DeWine said.
Some of the suggested measures businesses may have to follow in order to reopen, once given the go-ahead by DeWine and his team, include:
- Regular checks of personal protective equipment
- Limited visitors/guests
- Health screenings upon entry
- Clear guidelines on hygiene
- Self-monitoring instructions for illness
- Enforcement of social distancing guidelines
The guidelines were given as suggested measures based on the actions Frank Sullivan of RPM International Inc. has adopted.
DeWine said he and his team have a lot more work to do between now and May 1 for some businesses to reopen because they don’t want to cause a surge in COVID-19 after doing so well to flatten the curve thus far.
“The world that we’re going to see is a different world, and the world of the workplace is going to be different,” he said.
However, he added: “I will fight just as hard to bring this economy back as I have to save Ohioans.”
This story was originally published by staff at WCPO and WEWS.