Ohio’s dine-in restaurants and bars will start to open this week all around the Buckeye State, and a bit of a surprise was the rapid approval by officials at Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island to gently kick off the summer fun.
Officials on both islands had been playing the coronavirus pandemic very close to the vest, refusing to jump the gun as the warm summer weather loomed on the horizon. Most of the June events around Put-in-Bay have already been cancelled.
There is a problem that bars and restaurants will have to work out with the Ohio Department of Health. The mandates announced this week will not, according to some officials, allow live entertainment or dancing.
Club owners really don’t care much about dancing, but live entertainment brings visitors to those establishments.
The new coronavirus pandemic rules will allow restaurants and bars with outdoor patios and dining areas to begin serving drinks and food on Friday. Inside service will be allowed on Thursday, May 21, but restaurants must provide virus precautions and 6-foot social distancing between tables.
Put-in-Bay officials said Gov. Mike DeWine provided “much needed guidance to begin the process of welcoming friends and guests back to the island,” in a statement last Thursday. “We love summer and the opportunity to share the island.”
Retail shops in Put-in-Bay will begin to open this week, patio dining will begin on May 15 and inside dining will begin May 21. Servers will be required to wear face masks, which are recommended for customers.
“We need to do two things at once,” said DeWine. “Bring back our economy and, at the same time, stay safe. How we open up is so very, very important.”
The Miller Boat Line had shifted on Monday to its regular hourly schedule. The Jet Express plans to start ferry service soon, and golf cart rentals are available on both Kelleys and South Bass islands.
Mayor Ronald Ehrbar of Kelleys Island said that island lodging establishments can now accept reservations, and activities such as fishing, bicycling, paddling and touring the island are approved. Marinas and golf cart rentals will soon be open.
Visitors to the islands should expect reduced seating and occupancy limits at retail stores, bars and restaurants.