Will Scioto County drawback amid the recent COVID surge? Starting Monday the Portsmouth City Building and Portsmouth Municipal Court will be closing at 2 pm. Courtroom attendance will be curtailed to just those scheduled for an appearance. They ask that anyone entering the City Building to do so only to conduct “pertinent business”. Everyone is required to wear masks at all times.
We reached out to several local leaders with two questions.
- With the courthouse drawing back on hours and limits on participants in court proceedings, would you expect the private sector to begin to tighten restraints?
- Everyone has shown frustration with State Mandates that affect our local economy. It has been said publically that we should be allowed to regulate our own County. Would you encourage businesses, like restaurants, to re-consider some of their open seating and dining options?
Here are the responses we received:
John K McHenry, Candidate for County Commissioner: “I would hope the private sector, including restaurants and bars to reconsider their open seating and dining facilities. At this point in the virus crisis, it would be better to overreact than under react. There is no middle ground.”
Kevin E Johnson, Mayor of Portsmouth: “At this time I’m in a listening mode. I have mixed feelings about many issues we’re facing regarding this pandemic. I look for Council to have a discussion on that particular subject at our next meeting,(7-13-20)”
In addition, the Mayor would like to hear from local business owners.
“I would like to hear from local business owners on their thoughts as well.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Johnson encouraged citizens to submit their questions or comments to be addressed in Council Meetings. Council meetings will be live-streamed until further notice “Those participating will be Council, Clerk, City Manager, City Solicitor, City Auditor”. If you would like to communicate with Portsmouth City Council, simply email the City Clerk email@example.com. To have your questions or commits read in this upcoming meeting, they need to be received by 2:00 pm on 7-13-20.
Larry Mullins, Director of Scioto County EMA: “The courthouse will remain open regular hours however individual offices holders will set their own hours. The Recorder’s Office closed one day because of a possible exposure but, will reopen since the employee’s test came back negative.”
Director Mullins went on to say “We are trying not to become a Red Level 3 County. The local government had no input or say in the placement in the Governor and ODH Public Health Advisory System. “
“My understanding is that the counties that have been placed in the Red Level had as little as two hours warning that it was happening. We need to do everything we can to slow the spread again so we don’t end up being ordered to wear masks in public by the state. Young and old alike need to work to slow down the spread.”
Sean Dunne, City Council Vice President: “We are voting on a mandatory mask ordinance for Portsmouth on Monday”
Tim Wolfe, a business developer and member of the Ohio Restaurant Advisory Group has two perspectives to share with us. As a local business owner, he had this to say. “I think we have already seen some folks in the private sector require more preventive actions than mandated by the state. I think we will continue to see this. No one wants to assist in spreading the virus.”
The biggest concern, for me, is most small businesses are operating at unsustainable levels of revenue. My fear is that closing their doors may be the only viable option.
As a member of the Ohio Restaurant Advisory Group, he shared these findings that were provided to Governer Dewine. Given this discussion, we support our recommendation that restaurants and bars should be treated similarly AND must comply in full with the guidelines. “Butts must be in seats” and “seats must be appropriately distanced” remain the cornerstone recommendations. No open congregate areas for socializing should be permitted. It is important to note, that there are members of the board that believe we should be taking more stringent action with bars as a subset.
5 Key takeaways: (Over 70% agree/strongly agree) from the Advisory Group
- Continued communication: education; positive press; “negative” press; ORA promise – press conference coverage; etc all received strong support from the board.
- Enforcement – While most owners are being diligent with their actions, there are outliers, “bad actors”, that must be addressed. As a whole, the ad board does not support the idea of targeting bars; but rather there is a strong agreement for and support of the guidelines that have been implemented. Whether it is a bar, restaurant, tavern, etc if they are not in compliance with the guidelines established, we need to proceed with punitive action if necessary, up to and including a suspension of liquor licenses. It was reinforced from the health department that the violations are not limited to bars, but rather span a variety of venues.
- Limit hours for alcohol consumption to midnight.
- The use of the color-coded system should be considered when applying further restrictions.
- Require patrons to wear masks in public areas in those counties that are RED.
Bryan Davis, Scioto County Commissioner: “The courthouse elected officials have been monitoring and making decisions for their departments individually in the interest of public and employee safety. The courts are also receiving guidance from the Ohio Supreme Court. We have been in close consultation with our Health Department and we are taking advice from them.”
“While we believe we should have more local control, we must legally follow the guidelines as presented by ODH and our local health departments. We would recommend all local businesses do the same. The situation is very fluid and we must do all we can to keep our citizens and employees safe. ”
As we get more responses, we will update this article.
Since we don’t do news in the same old way, I will now stop the narrative and insert a publisher’s note: Thank you to those that took time out of a family day to help us communicate your positions to the public. In times like this, hearing from the insiders and decision-makers is paramount. An informed public is a safer public.
People want it from the “horse’s mouth”. So, we rattled the barn doors and got the horses talking for you. A sincere thank you to our local horses.