Linden Neighborhood Conversation

Robin Davis
Director of Media Relations
614.645.2425
rcdavis@columbus.gov

Melanie Crabill
Communications Manager
614.645.5300
mjcrabill@columbus.gov

Media Advisory
News Date: July 24, 2020

Mayor Ginther, Health Commissioner Ask Council to Limit Hours for Bars, Nightclubs and Restaurants

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts will advance legislation to Columbus City Council Monday, July 27, 2020, to place restrictions on the hours of operations for bars, nightclubs and restaurants. The ordinance will require the impacted businesses to close for operation at 10 p.m. each evening effective Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

“Our city like many others across the country are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, and there is clear evidence of community spread – especially indoors in places where groups are gathering,” said Mayor Ginther. “We’re also seeing a clear increase among younger people, and we know that bars and nightclubs have been the source of outbreaks locally. We need to take steps now to help stop the spread of the virus. We all need to do better for the health and safety of our neighbors.”

Based on recent data which shows an increase in diagnosed cases of COVID-19, and increased positivity test rate indicating community spread, and considering the guidance from Orders issued by the Ohio Department of Health and Governor DeWine, Columbus Public Health determined it the best interest of public health to place restrictions on bars, night clubs and restaurants to limit exposure to COVID-19.

“We are at a critical point in our fight against COVID-19 which continues to spread and increase in our community,” says Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “We must use every tool at our disposal to prevent the spread of disease. Shortening the time that people gather in groups will help reduce the risk not only to those who participate, but the entire community. This reduction – along with face coverings, social distancing and hand washing – will help protect health and save lives.”

The reduction of times of operation for bars, nightclubs and restaurants can limit exposure because exemptions to existing public health orders allow patrons to forgo face coverings for extended periods of time while seated at bars and tables and eating and drinking. The new health order does not limit the capacity of bars and restaurants so long as social distancing and other mandated health precautions are maintained and does not impact outdoor dining or carryout operations.

“We must do everything we can to cut down on community spread of COVID-19,” said Council President Shannon Hardin. “Our public health experts tell us that the later bars stay open, the fewer folks abide by social distancing practices. Council is ready to take action to cut down on opportunities for the virus to spread.”

Columbus Public Health will enforce the new order which will include a warning for the first violation. A fine of $500 will be levied for a second violation and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. Repeat violations may subject owners/operators to injunctive action to close the establishment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for the residents of Columbus,” said Councilmember Priscilla Tyson, who chairs the Health Committee. “We must do everything in our power to cut back viral transmission, and that includes slowing the virus’ access to people in congregate settings like bars and restaurants.”

The decision to advance the new order comes as COVID-19 cases have surged in a number of large cities across America and the nation as a whole has seen a significant increase in positive tests in recent days. Columbus is among 11 cities urged by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to take “aggressive” steps to combat the spread of COVID-19. Columbus Public Heath may recommend additional measures to prevent community spread based on data, science and established best practices.