Dayton will not issue new outdoor seating permits; mayor says Friday too soon for openings

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As Ohio’s economy starts to reopen, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said it’s way too soon for Friday’s planned reopening of barber shops, hair salons and outdoor dining.

“Just because something is allowed doesn’t mean you should do it,” Whaley said during a Tuesday press conference on the coronavirus situation hosted by Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “You will not see my husband, Sam, and I out at restaurants when they start reopening,” she said.

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The city will not be issuing any new or additional outdoor seating permits to restaurants and bars to coincide with Friday’s reopening, Whaley said.

It does not affect existing outdoor seating permits.

City officials will reconsider the policy in partnership with Public Health Dayton — Montgomery County. They could reassess the policy as early as June, a release stated.

The mayor is encouraging people to stay home and only go out when necessary because public safety takes priority.

“We want to reopen the economy safely and make sure people stay healthy at the same time. ... I know the people of Dayton can hang on a little while longer because they are amazing and continue to look out for one another from afar and continue to support small businesses that are providing takeout,” Whaley said.

Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said Public Health workers will be out in the community providing guidance to businesses, and will be making unannounced visits to ensure compliance. He also warned that there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases as the economy restarts.

Public Health is still developing its long-term plan for identifying cases and then doing contact tracing to isolate those who are infected and have their close contacts quarantine themselves for 14 days.

With workers required to wear face masks, he urged customers to wear them as well.

“It’s the right thing to do. Please as you are circulating again with these businesses that restart, please make sure that you don a face covering to protect the employees within that business,” Cooper said.

Whaley said: "The health and safety of this community is our top priority. While we are excited for our local businesses to open, we want to be thoughtful about our role in ensuring public safety.”

>> Huber restaurants can use sidewalk, parking lot as outdoor space

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein echoed that.

“We understand how especially devastating this crisis has been on our bars and restaurants,” said Dickstein. “During this time, we have been reviewing rules, regulations, and zoning codes in anticipation of the reopening of these businesses, as they navigate new safety and social distancing protocols. We will continue to work creatively to support our local restaurants and bars as they begin to recover from this crisis.”

Dayton’s decision is different than that of Huber Heights, which approved legislation to allow restaurants to use outdoor space like parking lots and sidewalks to help them reopen while meeting the state restrictions for restarting the economy.

The city of Cincinnati opted to close parts of nearly two dozen streets in parts of the city, allowing restaurants expanded outdoor seating.