Photos: Precaution And Protest Across Columbus
Ohio's long road to reopening begins Friday. Gov. Mike DeWine has announced plans for gradually easing restrictions on businesses after weeks of shutdowns.
As Ohio prepares to move forward, here's a snapshot of scenes around the Columbus area, captured by WOSU TV's production team over the past couple weeks.
Retail businesses are set to reopen on May 12, which is likley a welcome change for the more than 240 stores at Easton Town Center in northeast Columbus.
After initially stating that all employees and customers at retailers would have to wear masks, DeWine ammended his plan, saying that masks for customers was "strongly encouraged" but not a mandate.
Colleges and universities across the state have also been severely impacted. In a spring semester of closing campuses and switching to online learning, the academic year will end with virtual commencement ceremonies. The summer will remain remote too, and the fall is still uncertain.
All institutions of higher education will likely be facing severe budget cuts, and those that rely on sports revenue may see drastic changes to their athletic programs.
For Urbana University, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic combined with low enrollment rates means their campus will never reopen.
Though the plan to slowly reopen the economy is now in place, many are still critical of DeWine's handling of the pandemic. Even fellow Republican lawmakers want a faster reopening process and have released their own plan.
For weeks, protesters have converged at the Statehouse with signs accusing the government of overreacting and infringing on citizens constitutional rights.
Counter-protesters have also come out to support DeWine and Ohio Health Department director Amy Acton.
Both have recieved ample praise for their handling of the pandemic. Acton in particular has become something of a cultural icon, inspiring T-shirt designs, a https://youtu.be/awc0blNamSo">cartoon, and even a bobblehead figurine.
While dates are set for most businesses to reopen, dine-in restaurants and hair salons are still in limbo with no clear timeline for resuming service.
Even though the state is set to start opening up in May, gatherings of over 10 people are still prohibited.
It's still not clear when events like football games and concerts will start up again.
In the meantime, state officials say wearing masks, washing hands, and slowing the rate of infections are the surest ways to get back to normal–or some new normal–as quickly as possible.