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Cleveland Canceling Summer Events, Enforcing New Business Regulations

The City of Cleveland expected to increasingly enforce restrictions on businesses as the state further reopens following the coronavirus lockdown, Mayor Frank Jackson said in a Friday press conference.

Residents can file a complaint with the city if they suspect a business is violating social distancing or other restrictions. The city will reach out to the business by phone, Jackson said, as well as send a letter notifying the business of the complaint.

Now, a copy of the complaint will also be sent to the Ohio Department of Health, Jackson said.

“We want to ensure that as businesses open, they follow these rules,” Jackson said. “So we will be enhancing our enforcement effort, and working with the state and other partners to do that.”

Cleveland city officials issued warnings to four restaurants and bars last weekend for not complying with the state’s coronavirus safety guidelines.

The state has more options for penalties and enforcement, Jackson said, including a proposal to revoke liquor licenses.

“We will be working with the state, who has a little more authority especially if there is a liquor license involved in that establishment,” Jackson said.

Recommendations for new policies, such as street closures to expand patio dining, are expected soon, Jackson said Friday.

Local sanitation and air quality workers will investigate any patterns of behavior or egregious violations, Jackson said, and work with Cleveland police to address the issue. Police will also monitor parks and public gathering places throughout the summer to ensure they aren’t too densely populated, Jackson said.

The city plans to partially open neighborhood recreation centers in late July with limited activities, he said, but parades and festivals are canceled for the next two months. City officials will assess the need for August and September cancellations over the next two months, Jackson said.

Mayor Jackson also announced additional funding for select business programs under the ReStart Cleveland plan. Two funds will receive an additional $2 million to support the high number of applicants, including a $10,000 loan program for small businesses, as well as a loan program for specially impacted businesses such as restaurants and barbershops.

“Our efforts are designed to reduce the suffering and burden of individuals and business,” Jackson said, “and to position individuals and businesses for recovery.”

Cleveland is still moving forward with economic development projects, Jackson said. The city was recently awarded tax credit for the planned Woodhill Homes redevelopment, he said, among a few other projects, and the new police headquarters is still on track.

“These are investments that are occurring, in terms of development activity, in our economy, and I know that there are others going on,” Jackson said.

The city isn’t planning any layoffs or furloughs at this time, Jackson said. Revenue for the month of April dropped, he said, but a hiring freeze and other cost-saving measures are in place to counteract it, he said.

“Particularly the General Fund, about 85 percent of the cost is associated with personnel and their benefits,” Jackson said. “So we would have to look at that, if the trend continues to go down.”

Additional city employees will be brought on to aid in contact tracing for confirmed cases of COVID-19, Jackson said, most likely as temporary contract workers.

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