As Kent prepares for Halloween, residents skeptical people will comply with COVID-19 ordinance

Coronavirus

KENT, Ohio (WJW) — A day of anticipation in years past is now a concern for the City of Kent as COVID-19 cases continue to be reported at Kent State University and Portage County remains in the red at a level 3 public health advisory.

“People from out of town also will be asked not to come to Kent. I know that Greek life is also working on a strategy as well,” said Manfred van Dulmen, Ph.D., interim associate provost for academic affairs and interim dean of graduate studies.

KSU has joined the city to discourage parties with 10 or more people who are not in the same household.

City leaders say that applies to the week leading up to and the days following Halloween. 

“I don’t know how they’re gonna do it. I really don’t,” said Yvette Gibson who grew up in Kent.

She is skeptical about compliance even with the ordinance in effect that could result in a fine if violated. The university says certain behaviors may also be subject to discipline in line with the Code of Student Conduct.

“Any code of conduct violation that is reported, and we’ve received so far about 60 that are related to COVID this semester. All of those are processed, we follow up with,” said Van Dulmen.

One student, Ellie Benedict, has told us parties are planned, “I’ve even been invited to a few which I’ve had to decline because I just don’t feel safe,” she said.

Gibson says the city is a late-night town and big events are a draw for college students. 

“It’s a huge drinking night for the college students and for the town. A lot of the bars are gonna struggle this year with keeping the distance and the standards,” Gibson said.

As the city tries to keep people from congregating downtown to stop the spread of COVID-19, it could also potentially keep patrons coming to businesses that are already going through hard times.

“The economy’s struggling, and it’s gonna take a lot to get us back to where we were,” said Gibson.

The Pub in Kent announced they were closing early at 5 p.m. on what they say is one of the busiest nights of the year in the best interest of their staff, customers, and community.

“I can understand why the owners doing it, I really do. I respect it,” said Gibson.

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