CLEVELAND, Ohio — It wasn’t just Lago in the East Bank of the Flats where crowds flocked once Ohio restaurant patios were allowed to open Friday.
Social media showed photos of patios across the state, where patrons stood closer than six feet to each other, drinking, eating and talking without masks. In a statement Lago’s owner said enforcing the measures was difficult, and that photos only reflected a brief moment, while questioning the restaurant’s responsibility to enforce the state’s Stay Safe Ohio order.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health received four complaints over the weekend, according to spokesman Kevin Brennan, but is still in the process of responding. The county has not issued any warnings yet.
Columbus’s public health department issued eight warning letters over the warm spring weekend, according to WOSU. Standard Hall, a bar in the Short North neighborhood, received two warnings as pictures of crowds spread online. Park Street Cantina was also cited by the Ohio Investigative Unit, according to ABC6.
In Cincinnati, the city warned that officials would fine or shut down restaurants who were not following the guidelines. Establishments like the Blind Pig and Over-the-Rhine’s Rosedale also were subjects of social media backlash, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“Last night was our first night back in business, and as we all work to navigate the unknown, and implement these major changes to how we operate, we didn’t know what to expect with business, and unfortunately, despite that we have security and trained staff, the weather was beautiful, people came out, and we still didn’t have enough procedures and staff in place,” read a statement on the Blind Pig’s Facebook page on Saturday.
Since, the establishment has listed additional social distancing measures and wrote in another post that the guidelines will not allow for opening at full capacity.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, in a statement from spokesman Dan Tierney, warned against ignoring the guidelines:
“As restaurants and bars opened yesterday for patio service, we know many establishments across Ohio are doing their part to follow best practices to keep patrons safe and socially distanced. However, anecdotes are also being distributed across the state about establishments that opened and allegedly ignored these safety guidelines,” the statement read.
“Those who operate their businesses while disregarding safety guidelines, designed to protect the health of their customers and all Ohioans, are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced.”