Bars and restaurants will be shut down at 9 p.m. Sunday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Credit: Amal Saeed | Photo Editor

Ohio bars and dine-in restaurants were ordered to close indefinitely beginning at 9:00 p.m. Sunday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine said in a press conference Sunday.

DeWine announced that starting Sunday night, restaurants and bars would close for an undetermined amount of time to prevent the spread of the viral disease, officially known as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. Carry-out and delivery options are still allowed under the order. 

“Based upon the fact of where we are at this point in this pandemic, we are literally at a crucial, crucial, crucial stage,” DeWine said.

University spokesperson Dave Isaacs said in the email that the university will move quickly to determine the order’s impact on campus dining. 

“We are confident that we will be able to maintain food service to our students that is consistent with the state edicts and maintaining our single minded focus on the health and safety of our entire community,” he said. 

This comes three days after DeWine announced a limit of 100 people at any public gatherings. DeWine said that despite the order, he received messages over the weekend from citizens across the state raising concerns about packed bars and restaurants.

DeWine said he understood the impact the order will have on small businesses and that the state is taking steps to mitigate economic consequences.

“I understand, have some idea of that suffering, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am,” DeWine said. “Our goal is for everyone to get through this. What we wish is the next St. Patrick’s day, everyone will be there.”

Workers without paid leave benefits will be able to access unemployment benefits during this time, Lt. Gov John Husted said at the press conference.

Husted also announced that any restaurant or bar with a state liquor license can return unopened liquor bottles purchased within the past 30 days to the agency from which they purchased it as part of a buyback program. 

Individuals who are quarantined by a health professional or their employer are considered unemployed, and will not be required to seek employment, Husted said. This also applies to companies that are forced to shut down due to the emergency. 

The Ohio Department of Health confirmed 11 more cases of COVID-19 Sunday, bringing the total number to 37, according to the department’s website. 

A firefighter in Columbus, Ohio, tested positive for the viral disease Sunday, according to a press release from the city government. Other firefighters who worked at Station 24, that serves the Northland neighborhood, were evaluated by public health officials.The first case of COVID-19 in Columbus was confirmed Saturday by Mayor Andrew Ginther at a press conference.

Tests are available in the community but people must be referred by their healthcare provider, Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner for Columbus Public Health, said at a press conference Saturday. 

The virus spreads person-to-person through mucus and saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It easily spreads in the community when people are within 6 feet of one another. 

To prevent the spread of the disease people can wash their hands often, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when they are sick and cover their coughs and sneezes with their elbows, according to the CDC.

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