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DeWine on Veto: Refunding Bars' Fines for COVID Violations Wouldn't Be Fair

Barley House in Cleveland
Ohio Investigative Unit video
This is a still from a video taken inside Barley House in Cleveland by the Ohio Investigative Unit in November. The bar's liquor license was revoked in January after several COVID-19 citations.

One of Gov. Mike DeWine’s 14 vetoes struck a provision of the state budget that got a lot of early attention: the erasing of COVID-19 violations by bars and the refunding of the fines they paid.

DeWine said most businesses followed the state’s COVID regulations, with only a few bars that were repeatedly cited for staying open past curfew, selling too many drinks to go and not enforcing social distancing or mask wearing.

“For us to turn around and right now and the few who had to be cited by our liquor control agents, to say to them there’s no consequences for what you did, that would simply not be right. It would send a horrible, horrible, horrible message," DeWine said.

And DeWine noted businesses, restaurants and bars were involved in the development of reopening policies that they would have to follow.  

An estimated $100,000 in fines for hundreds of violations of COVID orders by liquor permit holders would have been refunded in that budget provision.

The budget also includes $460 million for grants to help bars, restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and other businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Updated: July 7, 2021 at 11:56 AM EDT
This story has been updated.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.