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Follow the guidelines

Restaurants and bars in Ohio will be permitted to reopen for inside serving on Thursday. They were cleared for outside service last Friday.

Both steps are parts of a gradual reopening of all sorts of businesses across the Buckeye State.

Many eateries had remained open for carryout and delivery service only while residents were ordered to stay at home as much as possible, but now they can welcome guests to dine or drink on site again. Already, there have been reports of diners and drinkers not following the rules for social distancing to guard against COVID-19. Photos taken over the weekend at bars in Columbus and Cincinnati showed large crowds of people gathered closely together, socializing and sharing close quarters at outdoor tables.

That prompted Gov. Mike DeWine to declare officials will do “whatever we have to do” to ensure restaurants and bars abide by state guidelines. He said business owners have a responsibility to ensure their customers abide by the rules, but he noted individuals must take responsibility for their actions as well.

There are not enough local, county and state enforcement personnel available to take care of the problem if Buckeye State residents decide to ignore the rules.

We have heard no reports of misbehavior in this area — and we hope we do not.

COVID-19 likes nothing more than a tightly-packed crowd. The disease could come roaring back with a vengeance if safety rules are not followed by bar and restaurant patrons.

We encourage local establishments to simply shut down if their customers behave unsafely.

We urge patrons to follow the rules — and leave if other diners/drinkers do not.

Ohio can be “reopened” safely — but only if Ohioans cooperate.

If they do not, more people — perhaps many more — will die.

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