Gov. Mike DeWine is planning to allow Ohio businesses to reopen starting May 1.
“We have a plan to start opening Ohio back up,” DeWine said on Twitter. “It’s going to be gradual – one thing after another. We want to do this in a thoughtful way that engenders confidence and ensures customers and employees are safe.”
He added: “I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st.”
Ohio has taken a heavy-handed approach in combating the COVID-19 outbreak, including an order requiring Ohioans to remain at home except for essential business. During a Thursday briefing, DeWine indicated he would announce additional specifics about the May 1 reopening at a later time.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 8,239 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio and 8,414 total cases, according to state numbers. There were 373 confirmed deaths and 389 total deaths.
Ohio officials have tested 74,000 people, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said during a daily briefing. There have been cases reported in 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties, Acton said.
“We’re fighting every day for both your lives and your well-being,” Acton said. “We know that health is so much more than whether we get sick or not.
“It’s so much more about who we are, how we feel,” Acton added. “This has been a very, very trying time for all Ohioans, whether it’s us getting sick, someone we know losing a loved one or whether it is going through this as business owners and as people who are trying to make our way in the world.”
The decision to reopen Ohio aligns with an announcement President Donald Trump was expected to make on Thursday evening to open the nation’s economy. It also comes as more Ohioans urged the government to lift restrictions.
“Ohioans have done a great job, a phenomenal job, fighting back, staying home, ensuring physical distancing,” DeWine said in a news release. “We’ve been doing all the things that needed to be done. I’ve never been prouder to be an Ohioan and I’m very grateful for what you have done. You have flattened the curve.”
State Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, who had called on the governor to reopen the state for business, applauded DeWine’s announcement.
“It will be cautious rollout over a period of time,” Brenner said in a Facebook post. “He has asked business groups to have plans for keeping their various businesses safe over the course of the coming months. He will make sure things are being monitored so we don’t have major spikes in” COVID-19.