By Kyle Stroup & Jim Sammon

Whose Responsibility Is It, Anyway?

Over the weekend, Ohio bars and restaurants were once again permitted to serve patrons, albeit outdoors, but only if they complied with Ohio’s social distancing requirements and other guidelines detailed here. Despite many restaurants and bars’ best efforts, some patrons neglected the state’s orders – which begs the question, whose responsibility is it to ensure the bars and restaurants are in compliance with Ohio’s social distancing guidelines and other mandates?

Governor Mike DeWine announced Monday that the responsibility lies with the bars and restaurants themselves. And, as demonstrated over the weekend at several establishments, failure to meet this standard will result in notices and citations and may include fines, loss of liquor licenses and potential jail time.

While the Ohio Investigative Unit handed out citations over the weekend, local health departments can also issue warnings and citations separately. Gov. DeWine also stated that he would not rule out citations for individuals who refuse to abide by the six-foot social distancing requirement.

Ohio’s reopening plan gave bars and restaurants a week’s notice to come into compliance with the state’s mandates. Most Ohio bars and restaurants that were cited state that they had all the necessary equipment and protocols in place, including seating tables six feet apart, limiting groups to 10 or less, serving patrons outdoors and limiting capacity. Despite these attempts, some of Cleveland’s most well-known establishments were cited over the weekend for not complying with Ohio’s mandates and now face negative press and backlash from angry citizens.

On the heels of Gov. DeWine’s Monday press conference, in which he announced that the Ohio Investigative Unit will continue to grow to ensure compliance with state mandates, the problems may only continue to mount for bars and restaurants struggling to stay above water during these times.

If you have questions or would like to discuss further, please contact Jim Sammon at or 216.736.7235.