JEFFERSON — Ashtabula County’s economic recovery task force met on Wednesday, with a pair of local business owners discussing how their businesses have coped with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Candace Reed spoke to the task force about how her business, Infinity Health Care Solutions, has been dealing with the outbreak. The business has been working throughout the outbreak. Finding supplies of personal protective equipment has been difficult, but within the last two weeks, Infinity has been able to replenish its supply, Reed said.

“What I would tell any other agency is just education, education, education, on the whole COVID-19,” Reed said.

P.J. Macchia also spoke at the meeting. Macchia owns several businesses in Geneva-on-the-Lake, including Sportsterz Bar and Grill. He discussed issues that he has been having getting patrons to abide by social distancing guidelines. Macchia’s businesses have large outdoor seating areas.

Large groups of people attempting to visit restaurants and bars have to be broken up to abide by the limit restricting groups to ten or fewer people, Macchia said. 

Macchia’s businesses have followed the guidelines laid down for opening, including moving tables to be more six feet apart, and requiring patrons to split up into smaller groups.

One of the requirements for restaurants and bars to open is that patrons sit down at their table to eat, instead of walking around. “It’s going to very challenging to get people to cooperate on that note,” Macchia said.

There are about 100 signs at each of Macchia’s locations encouraging people to follow social distancing and sit down to eat, he said.

“The businesses have to work together, there’ll have to be some self-policing,” said Ray Saporito, Ashtabula County Health Commissioner. “It’s not going to be probably pleasant for some of the patrons.”

The Ashtabula County Health Department received a pair of complaints about crowds at Geneva-on-the-Lake, Saporito said.

There was also a discussion about using shower curtains as dividers at restaurants, to allow tables to be closer than six feet together. Using shower curtains in that fashion violates the fire code, and is not allowed.

The task force discussed creating a frequently-asked-questions sheet with information about things like whether shower curtains are acceptable dividers, and other issues relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

There was also a brief run-down of festivals that have been canceled.

The Conneaut 4th of July Festival has officially been canceled, said Conneaut Health Commissioner Nichele Blood, after getting into contact with the festival’s organizer.

Officials behind other festivals, including the Grape Jamboree and the Wine and Walleye Festival, have announced that they will not be held this year.

Live entertainment, including singing, is not allowed under current orders, Saporito said.

The task force is made up of representatives from local governments, businesses, chambers of commerce and tourism boards. The group has been meeting virtually since April.

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