On the same day Gov. Mike DeWine announced the date several types of businesses/venues including indoor movie theaters, zoos, and playgrounds could reoepen, three of Ohio’s amusement and water parks are suing the state in an effort to reopen their facilities.
Kalahari Resorts, owned by Delaware-based LMV Development, LLC, is suing Dr. Amy Acton in her official capacity as Director of the Ohio Department of Health, as well as the Erie County General Health District, the health authority for Erie County, in which Kalahari is located.
Kings Island, owned by Sandusky-based Cedar Fair, is also suing Acton in her official capacity as well as the Warren County Health District.
Cedar Point is expected to join the effort Friday.
The businesses are being represented in part by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a non-profit group that describes itself as “dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse.”
“The Ohio Constitution’s protections apply to all, including those businesses that the state’s highest public officials view as non-essential. The Governor and his Health Director must end their unnecessary and unconstitutional assault on Ohioans’ businesses and traditions,” said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson.
“We and our clients remain committed to ensuring that these arbitrary policies never again recur,” Thompson added.
Acton’s extended stay-at-home order amid the novel coronavirus pandemic has kept the amusement and water parks closed.
The lawsuits state that Acton and the Ohio Department of Health have treated the amusement and water parks differently than public swimming pools and other recreational venues.
The lawsuits ask a judge to order the immediate reopening of amusement parks and water parks and to prevent Acton from closing them again in the future.
“The May 29 Order singles out amusement and water parks even as nearly all other Ohio businesses are permitted to operate. The Order provides no opening dates for these seasonal businesses that employ thousands and generate the bulk of the economic activity in their respective counties, even though these businesses are safe to operate,” the 1851 Center states in a press release.
The cases are pending in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas before Judge Binette, and the Warren County Court of Common Pleas before Judge Oda.