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Coronavirus In Ohio: DeWine Says State Could 'Pull Back' If Businesses Ignore Safety Rules

Gov. Mike DeWine gives his daily coronavirus briefing on April 1, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine says the state will do "whatever we have to do" to enforce social distancing measures if bars and restaurants fail to restrain crowds. His comments came Sunday after pictures of packed Columbus bars went viral on social media.

The Columbus Public Health department issued eight warning letters over the weekend.

Standard Hall in the Short North received two warnings after multiple reports and pictures on social media showed a crowded patio where people didn't appear to be practicing social distancing. Few masks were visible in the photos.

DeWine said bars could lose their liquor licenses if they’re not following the rules.

Speaking on CNN Sunday morning, DeWine said “it’s going to come to Ohioans doing what Ohioans have done for the last two months" in largely heeding social distance measures.

But as restaurants prepare to offer indoor dining on Thursday, DeWine warned that businesses could be also shut down if coronavirus numbers spike or the state's protocols aren’t followed.

“If we have to do that, we will do that," DeWine said in an interview with "The State Of Ohio." "I have an obligation to protect the citizens of the state of Ohio as much as much as we can protect them."

DeWine’s office said in a statement that businesses that disregard safety guidelines "are being irresponsible and need to understand that these guidelines will be enforced."

The Ohio Restaurant Association, which had called on DeWine to set May 15 as a reopening date, said that most restaurants and bars opened following the state's social distancing guidelines and other protocols. However, many establishments elected not to reopen this weekend

New COVID-19 deaths in Ohio have decreased over the last two days, though there were 41 deaths reported this weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.