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Coronavirus In Ohio: County Fairs Allowed To Open This Summer

Steve Lake

The interim director of the Ohio Department of Health, Lance Himes, has issued a new order allowing for the reopening of county fairs this summer, with some requirements to protect the health of participants.

The order takes effective immediately and will remain in place through October 21, 2020. 

"While the corona virus has made it impossible to hold fairs in the way we have in the past, they are of such importance to communities that every effort should be made to preserve the Junior Fair competitions and exhibits, as well as the open class (open to adults) events and competitions," the order begins.

County fairs, including animal exhibitions, are allowed to reopen if they meet all the safety guidelines. These guidelines include complying with social distancing requirements, which consist of staying six feet away from other individuals, frequent hand washing or availability of hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, regularly cleaning surfaces and not shaking hands.

Businesses must allow customers to wear facial coverings, but they are not required. All employees must be wearing a facial covering unless there is a justifiable reason not to. 

County fairs must be conducted in a way that discourages large gatherings. This includes six feet markers and one way traffic patterns. Capacity in grandstands must be cut in half, with a max capacity of 2,500 seated spectators. There will also be extra sanitation stations. 

Currently, Junior Fair competitions and exhibits and open class events and competitions are set to reopen. However, more events may reopen if the pandemic recedes in Ohio. If there is a second spike, these events may be canceled once again. 

Elderly people and those who are immunocompromised are still encouraged to stay at home unless seeking medical attention. 

The Ohio State Fair recently canceled its 2020 event, which was scheduled to run from July 29-August 9 at the fairgrounds in Columbus. It's the first time the state fair was canceled since World War II.

An Ohio House committee recently approved a bill that would allow county fairs to hold events this summer. Democratic legislators twice failed to pass an amendment that would ban the sale and display of the Confederate flag at those fairs.

Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.