DeWine gives the green light to reopening museums, zoos in Ohio

By Todd DeFeo - The Center Square

Zoos, trampoline parks and museums in the Buckeye State can soon reopen under new regulations, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The attractions can reopen starting June 10, if they adhere to guidelines from the state.

“As I’ve said, Ohioans are able to do two things at once,” DeWine said in a statement. “We can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safely reopen our economy.

“It is up to each of us to do what we can to keep each other safe and choose to keep six feet of social distance, wear masks, and maintain good hand hygiene,” DeWine added. “The threat of COVID-19 remains and while it’s our responsibility to keep each other safe, business owners and employees should do their part to ensure customers visit safely, by cleaning and sanitizing surfaces regularly.”

In a news release announcing the decision, DeWine’s office mentioned 15 entertainment venues that may reopen on June 10, including aquariums, movie theaters, roller skating rinks and social clubs. However, water parks and amusement parks were not on the list.

To that end, on Thursday, the House Agricultural and Rural Development Committee signed off on House Bill 665, which would allow amusement parks and water parks in Ohio to reopen immediately.

“We fully anticipate and expect having the same opportunity granted to other businesses in Ohio to operate our business in a safe and manageable environment,” Richard Zimmerman, CEO of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, said in a statement. Cedar Fair operates Cedar Point in Sandusky and Kings Island in Mason.

Lawmakers may not be done with their efforts to support the hospitality sector. State lawmakers are also considering legislation, House Bill 669, to allow restaurants and bars to offer alcohol to carryout and delivery customers.

The legislation “throws a needed lifeline to the small, local business owners, and their employees struggling to survive COVID-19’s economic shutdown,” Greg R. Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, said in prepared testimony to the House Commerce and Labor Committee. “Ohio’s stay-at-home orders have hit the leisure and hospitality industries especially hard, with unemployment in these sectors outpacing other sectors by far.

“Restaurant and bar owners provide quality jobs in our communities and help anchor hundreds of Main streets and business districts across Ohio,” Lawson added.

“As the pandemic’s effects persist, many bars and eateries face severe revenue shortfalls and are already struggling to survive,” Lawson continued. “As restaurants go out of business and their once temporary closures become permanent, their employees and our communities will suffer as unemployment rises and local tax revenues fall,” he said.

“So helping these business owners stay open ultimately helps Ohio.”

By Todd DeFeo

The Center Square