Coronavirus
Coronavirus

COLUMBUS —Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol face more restrictions as contact tracing leads back to patrons and more and more complaints are received about the lack of social distancing and mask wearing.

Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday he will address the issue with an order that would go into effect Friday.

"I continue to have grave concerns about the spread of coronavirus at establishments that serve alcohol for onsite consumption. We have seen outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio including Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus," he said. "The problem is, bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors. Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people - especially the younger crowd. While this may have been fine during normal times, these are not normal times."

DeWine said he knows shutting down bars and restaurants a second time would be devastating.

"We are not going to do that today. But, I’m announcing that I've requested the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to call a meeting to consider enacting an emergency rule related to liquor sales," he said. "This rule would prevent the sale of alcohol at all liquor-permitted establishments beginning at 10 p.m. each night. Consumption of alcohol must end by 11 p.m. The businesses can stay open – but we believe that stopping alcohol sales at 10 o’clock for onsite consumption will help thin out the crowd and help slow the spread."

This order must be passed by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission. He is also asking the commission raise the number of liquor and mixed drinks that can be purchased with a meal to-go from two to three.

Establishments that serve food can continue to do so until closing.

Allen County has lost its star. The county is still in the Red Alert Level 3 but is no longer trending toward the Purple Alert Level 4. Risk Level 3 means there is very high exposure and spread; residents should limit activities as much as possible to reduce their risk of exposure; and residents must follow all current health orders.

Van Wert County has gone from Orange Alert Level 2 to Yellow Alert Level 1.

Overall, there were 11 fewer counties in Red Alert Level 3 since last Thursday.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacuetical is reversing its position on hydroxychloroquine. The board announced Wednesday it was prohibiting the use of well-known malaria drug on COVID patients. On Thursday, the decision was changed.

"I believe that was the right thing to do. I believe their process in arriving at the decision to ban hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients was fundamentally flawed," DeWine said. " I believe they should have had a full hearing on this that sought out additional medical advice. I’m them to thoroughly look at this issue as the science and understanding of COVID-19 and how to treat it continues to evolve."

DeWine said he had no position on the use of the drug.

"As Governor, I do not and should not have a position on the use of this drug for treating #COVID19 patients. We should leave this up to doctors and scientists. I expect the medical board and the pharmacy board to examine this issue based on the best science," he said.

Dewine is also making the mass gathering guidance its own order.

"Today I am announcing that we will be separating out our 10-person mass gathering guidance back into a separate order. The order will be the same in many ways as it is today, however, this order offers clear recommendations to remind Ohioans when gatherings can be done safely," DeWine said Thursday.

1. Gatherings at a household or family residence should be limited to close friends/family and are recommended to be 10 visitors or less.

2. Residents in a red/purple county should limit hosting or attending gatherings of any size.

3. Wear a mask at all times at gatherings and maintain physical distance.

4. Use take out, outdoor dining, or indoor dining only when strict social distancing can be maintained.

5. Take extra precautions if you go to bars/clubs, where use of masks typically is inconsistent and drinking alcohol can lead to less social distancing.

6. Protect anyone w/ serious medical conditions at home by social distancing, wearing a mask, and high levels of hygiene.

7. High-risk individuals should take extra precautions to limit the number of people they interact with.

8. Make the group of people you interact with most often as small as possible and make sure that they are taking appropriate COVID-19 precautions – even if you are just gathering with family, friends, or neighbors at your home.

Thursday's COVID-19 data:

There were 89,626 cases and 3,442 deaths. The number of hospitalizations was 10,678 with 2,534 in ICU.