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Restaurant owner awaits new Ohio COVID-19 restrictions

Governor could announce closings next week
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 5:36 PM EST
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BELPRE, Ohio- (WTAP) - A local restaurant owner waits to see if Ohio’s governor follows through with possible business closings.

The Ohio Redwood Restaurant has been a fixture in Belpre for decades, but Desiree Kearns has just owned the business for a little more than a year.

The restaurant was one of numerous establishments that did takeout and delivery orders exclusively last spring, after restaurant dining rooms were closed at the start of the pandemic.

If, as suggested, Ohio closes restaurants again, Kearns isn’t sure whether she can keep the business going.

“We’re going to do our best to stay open, just with the takeout and delivery," she says. "We’ll just have to adjust again. I believe it will be tougher...you’re just getting back on your feet and getting everything caught up.”

Governor DeWine mandated closings of non-essential businesses effective March 16. Governor Jim Justice followed suit in West Virginia two days later. Eateries like the Redwood kept going with takeout, although a couple of restaurants closed their doors permanently.

Dining rooms in both states were allowed to reopen May 21, although some have remained closed. In a couple of cases, restaurants that reopened their dining rooms this past summer closed again to in-person dining this week, operating only their drive-throughs and online ordering.

DeWine announced Wednesday night that, if recently-rising COVID-19 numbers don’t ease, Ohio could decide as early as next Thursday whether to close in-person dining again. That, while announcing more enforcement of the state’s mask-wearing requirements.

Governor Justice has yet to make a similar announcement in West Virginia, but, with similarly rising numbers, he has been asked about it at his recent briefings. He said Wednesday, “we’re looking at everything”.

Kearns says the Ohio regulation limiting indoor gathering to 10 people has been hard on the Redwood’s banquet business, which had included the Belpre Rotary Club’s weekly meetings. She adds the dining room was modified to meet Ohio’s requirements for reopenings in late spring.

On a positive note, Kearns says the Belpre community stepped up with its patronage to help her stay in business after the closings were eased this past summer.

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