Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, June 9 edition on Page A1.
Community centers, pools and movie theaters are just a few on the list of venues allowed to reopen on June 10. The reopenings were announced on Thursday, June 4, by Gov. Mike DeWine.
The announcement was made despite DeWine’s daily COVID-19 press conference being canceled on June 4 in honor of the memorial service for George Floyd held in Minneapolis. DeWine called for a statewide moment of silence for George Floyd at 2 p.m.
The list of facilities qualifying for reopening on June 10 include:
- Art galleries
- Country clubs
- Ice skating rinks
- Indoor family entertainment centers
- Movie theaters (indoor)
- Indoor sports facilities
- Laser tag facilities
- Playgrounds (outdoor)
- Public recreation centers
- Roller skating rinks
- Social clubs
- Trampoline parks
The announcement is part of Responsible Restart Ohio, the plan DeWine announced in late April to begin the process of reopening the state.
For Athens County this announcement means the return of some normal summer activities like going to the pool. Interim Nelsonville City Manager Scott Frank said that the announcement is right in line with what the city has been working on at the city pool.
The project has been under construction. Currently they are pouring concrete. As soon at the concrete is ready the city will fill the water, Frank said that once the Health Department approves the chemical levels for the pool they will be ready to open.
According to Frank the city has been working on their reopening plan in anticipation of DeWine’s announcement. Recently the city submitted its reopening plan to the Health Department.
“Our plan has been approved,” Frank said. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
To comply with state standards they lower the occupancy number for pool – even going lower than the state suggests. In addition the city has eliminated diving boards and slides for the season to minimize the number of things that would need to be sanitized in between patrons.
“People will also have to bring their own furniture,” Frank said, stating that deck chairs have also been removed for sanitary reasons. “We’re basically limiting everything people would touch.”
In addition the food options for sale will be different than in past seasons. Fresh food items will not be available for purchase, instead customers will be able to purchase bottled drinks and packaged food items such as bags of potato chips. This is to reduce the number of safety procedures that will need to be put in place.
Though Nelsonville does not have an exact opening date to announce, Frank says that it should be soon.
Frank noted that another community favorite in Nelsonville, Thunder in the Valley, Nelsonville’s annual fireworks display is set to move forward on July 4.
The public pool at the Athens Community Center will remain closed for the season, as was already reported by The Messenger, however the Community Center itself is set to begin reopening on June 15.
Athens Community Center Director Terri Moore said that the opening will take place in two phases, the first beginning on June 15 with a members-only opening of the fitness center. The limited opening will be for two weeks, at which time phase two will begin, allowing the general public to utilize the facility.
“The challenge is that this is a multi-generational facility,” Moore said. “We’ve got seniors, summer camps, the general public. We have to provisionally have things in place for all those groups.”
In anticipation of meeting the needs of the various demographics the Community Center serves, Moore said that they have been busy modifying the Community Center. When reopened there will be sanitization stations around the building and plexiglass dividers at the front desk. In addition the Community Center is currently waiting on Emisters, which are sanitization guns that spray large areas.
“All those things are the kind of behind the scenes things that prevent us from opening up. There’s a run on those things (Emisters and sanization stations),” Moore said. Despite the run on sanitization equipment, Moore is confident that it will come through. “We will have what we need to open.”
The Community Center will also be changing its hours of operation. Monday-Friday they will be closed from noon to 1 p.m. to sanitize the facility before a senior only hour from 1-2 p.m. Otherwise the hours will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Other than the fitness center and the second floor walking track, other aspects of the community center will be changed. Upon reopening there will be no room rentals initially. Moore said this is to do with limiting the number of people gathering together.
The outdoor basketball and pickleball courts will not be fully opened. However, indoor courts may be open by reservation.
“I do see us having limited activity in our indoor facility,” Moore said.
The annual summer camps held at the Community Center began on June 6, with modifications.
“We’ve reduced capacity by 50%. We have approximately 36 kids with a nine to one ratio,” Moore said. The children are split into groups to abide by state ordinances.
The changes to the Community Center are many, but Moore said that it’s all in the best interest of the patrons.
“It’s slow but sure. I feel like we are moving in the right direction, we’ll adjust. Our number one priority is keeping the community safe,” Moore said.
Local movie theaters and museums are also eligible for reopening. Currently Movies 10, The Athena Grand, The Athena Cinema, and the Kennedy Art Museum have not announced reopening plans.