State issues Responsible Restart Ohio requirements for restaurants, bars, and personal services

In a welcome move, Gov. Mike DeWine today said salons, spas, and barbershops, as well as restaurants and bars for outside service on May 15 and restaurants could host inside patrons on May 21.

“This is a good day, but I want to caution everyone, this is high risk,” DeWine said after the opening requirements were announced while adding the risk would be great even if the state didn’t start opening up. These two segments of the economy have been mostly closed since the first Stay at Home order took effect on March 23. Some restaurants and bars have been doing delivery or carryout since that time.

As is the norm, daily symptom assessments, regular handwashing, cleaning, and sanitizing procedures, and social distancing are part of the guidelines.

A few thoughts:

  • The new requirements are out, but DeWine said he wasn’t going to change the mass gathering requirements in the Stay Safe Order. That’s going to make it difficult, but not impossible, for restaurants and bars to police those guidelines.
  • DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted all said they believed the COVID-19 infection numbers would go up after things open up in this month.
  • Child care guidelines should be coming on Monday, which might help business owners get more people to return to work, even with the requirements out there.
  • There’s still no guidance on gyms, physical fitness centers, and athletic facilities, and an advisory group on this area of the economy hasn’t been formed yet, so it may be a while.
  • Some counties are already counting tattoo shops in the personal services category, but the governor’s presser didn’t specifically mention those businesses. We’re hoping they will continue to be treated in that category.

Those are my quick thoughts. I’ll have more later.

Other standards announced Thursday:

Restaurants and bars

While the state didn’t differentiate between the two entities, it did set up two dates for an opening – one for outside service and a week later for inside service.


Treva Weaver, of the group that created Zoup! Eateries in the Columbus area outlined the restaurant and bars operating requirements. Here’s what business owners need to do:

  • Create floor plans that maintain social distancing space, but also allow for parties of 10 or less. Public spaces such as pool tables, video games, jukeboxes, etc. will be restricted from public and employee use.
  • A waiting plan, which can include waiting in your car, until a table is ready.
  • Buffets and salad bars can still be served, but will not be self-serve. Staff will serve the plates to patrons.
  • Employees will wear masks, except for those who have exemptions or have a safety consideration. An example used at the press conference was a grill cook who cannot wear a mask because of safety concerns. Businesses will also decide whether they require patrons to wear masks, other than while eating or drinking.
  • The use of gloves will go back to industry standards, which means that the use of gloves by cashiers is not mandated.

Personal services

Debbie Penzone, of Charles Penzone Salons, headed the personal services advisory group and spoke on behalf of the state during the press conference.

Some of the guidelines:

  • The use of masks or facial coverings is required by all employees unless a functional (practical) reason to avoid its use.
  • Customers should wear masks or facial covering at all times.
  • No waiting area. Instead, those waiting may be asked to remain in their vehicle until the appointment time.

Ohio businesses included in this group include barbershops, hair salons, massage therapy locations, nail salons, day spas, and tanning salons. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the State Medical Board would issue massage guidelines. As I mentioned, we’re still waiting to see if tattoo shops will be included in this category as they have been since the beginning of the business closures.