The Buckeye Institute: A Second Shutdown Is the Wrong Cure for COVID-19

Nov 12, 2020

Columbus, OH – Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute, issued the following statement on the possibility of a second shutdown of businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Buckeye Institute appreciates Governor DeWine’s genuine concern for the safety of all Ohioans; however, a second shutdown is the wrong cure for this disease. The remedy for Ohio is moral suasion not criminal sanctions.

“A second shutdown raises serious issues of enforcement, and would be absolutely devastating to businesses which are diligently following the rules, keeping their patrons safe, yet are hanging on by their financial fingernails. Ohio would be better served to focus its limited resources on truly bad actors rather than crushing whole sectors of the economy.”

Ohioans are hurting and not just those who have contracted COVID-19 and those whose loved ones have contracted or succumbed to the virus, but also those who have lost jobs or watched their life’s work be destroyed due to previous shutdown orders.

  • More than 246,000 Ohioans who work at hotels, restaurants, and bars were out of work during the last shutdown, and there are still more than 100,000 fewer jobs in those industries compared to this time the previous year.
  • According to the Ohio Restaurant Association, more than half of the state’s restaurants could close permanently—destroying the life’s work of thousands of Ohioans.
  • Another shutdown would lead to more Ohioans losing their jobs and would increase Ohio’s unemployment rate to almost 11 percent if jobs losses in hotels, restaurants, and bars equals or exceeds job losses from last spring.
  • A shutdown of two weeks will cost average employees in the leisure and hospitality sector almost $1,000 in lost earnings. Ohioans simply cannot afford this second wave of economic devastation.

On the legal/constitutional question, the governor, acting during a public health emergency has broad constitutional authority; however, that authority is not limitless. Courts in Ohio—and throughout the country—have held that shutdown orders that are arbitrary, unreasonable, or lack procedural safeguards can violate state or federal constitutions.

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