Businesses eager to reopen amid governor's plan to restart Ohio's economy

Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 8:43 PM EDT
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In Bowling Green, COVID-19 has cast an eerie sense of stillness on the city's streets. For nearly a month now, business has been almost non-existent as people stay home and practice social distancing.

"It is a weird feeling not to have anyone in the store," Coyote Beads and Jewelry owner Gayle Walterbach said.

The 15-year businesswoman closed up her South Main Street shop on March 16 following guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine. Since then, she's laid off three workers and shifted to online sales only.

"I'm still hanging in there, you know that's all I can do — just take it one day at a time," Walterbach said.

Meanwhile, at restaurants like Kabob It, workers are also doing their best to get by.

"The design is a lot different, and that's been kind of a weird transition," shift manager Mariah Bainbridge said of the store's layout. "It's weird not having other bars and restaurants open, you know?"

The Wooster Street eatery's normally busy dining room is currently absent of tables and chairs as takeout and delivery are now the only option.

"A lot of people will come in, their faces are covered and kind of just, 'Here's the food,' and then they go," Bainbridge said.

After days of wondering "what's next?," Ohio businesses got some hopeful news Thursday after Gov. DeWine announced plans to slowly reopen the state by May 1.

Admittedly struggling to make ends meet at times, Walterbach said she's ready to get back to work.

"I look forward to that day for sure," Walterbach said. "The sooner the better, but we want to be safe."

Meanwhile, workers like Bainbridge said they're just eager to settle into some sense of normalcy.

"Just having people come in and talk to them and getting them to sit down, that'll be nice to have again," Bainbridge said.

At this point, it's unclear exactly which businesses will be allowed to open first. Gov. DeWine said Thursday that employers will have to spell out how they'll protect workers. More guidance is expected over the next few days.