COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio day care centers and gyms, along with activities ranging from sports like tennis and softball to horse racing to swimming in public pools, will resume this month, the state’s top leaders said Thursday -- amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
State campgrounds will open May 21 and motor vehicle bureaus on May 26, although Lt. Gov. Jon Husted urged residents to do as much vehicle renewal online as possible.
But water parks and swimming at amusement parks are still off limits, as is gambling at racinos and casinos, which remain closed, Husted said. Horse racing will begin May 22 without spectators.
Gov. Mike DeWine was under pressure to open day care centers as much of the economy has begun reopening, with Ohioans having returned to offices, factories, construction jobs and retail stores. Restaurants can begin patio dining Friday with inside dining to restart May 21.
The plan that opens day care centers May 31 limits preschool- and school-age children to nine in a classroom, and infants and toddlers to six per classroom. Temperatures will be taken daily, and employees must wear masks. Field trips are prohibited.
The reduced class size does not mean that some families won’t have spots for their children, the governor said.
“It’s certainly not our goal to have any family left out,” said DeWine, a Republican.
Ohio will use $60 million in federal pandemic relief aid to boost cleaning in day care centers and help reduce classroom size, DeWine said. Day camps will also open May 31, a boon to many families with school-age children trying to plan their summers.
“It’s more important than ever for people to wash their hands regularly, wear masks and maintain distance from others,” DeWine said.
Ohio day care centers employ about 60,000 child care providers and serve about 285,000 children, said the Ohio Association of Child Care Providers, which welcomed the news.
DeWine made the announcements on reopenings as confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases topped 26,000 and more than 1,500 deaths were recorded. The 21-day average of case increases ticked up to 555 on Thursday.
“Not exactly where we wanted to be, but we did not have that huge surge we were worried about either,” DeWine said.