SIDNEY — Memorial Day has passed. Restrictions on Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home have been eased. Restaurants are opening up for dine-in business. Barbershops and hair salons are open for business, with certain restrictions.
“I think you’ll see people taking more small trips this summer,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.
Lenhart offered some tips on planning a trip.
“Always plan your route in advance,” said Lenhart. “You might have to plan more than usual because of the coronavirus.
“Make sure your car is in tip-top shape,” he said. “If you’re planning to spend the night somewhere, call ahead and make sure the hotel is open and has a room available.”
He encourages travelers to pack their normal essential items but to add bottles of water, snacks and cleaning items.
“Because of the virus, you might want to take along sanitizing items such as Wet Wipes and hand sanitizer,” said Lenhart.
The sheriff said he recently talked with a friend who is a truck driver. He asked him what kind of conditions he experienced while on the road.
“He was pleasantly surprised how clean and well maintained everything was,” said Lenhart. “He said when pumping gas a person should wear a glove or use a towel that’s available at the pump and used to wipe windows after washing them.
“You should also use credit cards so you can pay at the pump and you don’t have to go into the store,” he said.
When traveling out-of-state, Lenhart said, you should find out what the state’s policy is for dining in because of COVID-19.
“They might not have spacing out by 6 feet like we do,” said Lenhart.
He said many of the larger hotel chains bring in a cleaning crew to clean the facility.
“But I recommend you still take your own cleaning supplies,” said Lenhart. “Wipe down high traffic areas such as door knobs and handles. Place a plastic sandwich bag over the TV control so you’re not touching the buttons.”
Lenhart said travelers should ask the hotel staff not to clean their rooms while they are staying there as that will limit traffic in and out of the room.
“You should ask to stay on the second floor and have your room overlook the parking lot where your car is,” he said. “And don’t stay above the sixth floor as most fire department’s aerial truck can’t reach above the sixth floor.”
Some hotels have cut back on security because of fewer travelers.
“Thirty-eight percent of thefts are from hotel rooms,” said Lenhart. “Another 13% are from vehicles.”
Lenhart said crime has dropped throughout the United States since the coronavirus made its appearance.
“But domestic violence is up,” said Lenhart. “Violent crime committed with a gun is up.”
Lenhart said car crashes are down in the United States, but fatal crashes are up because with less traffic, people tend to go faster.
Thefts in vehicles is also up across the U.S.
“It takes 10 seconds to burglarize a vehicle,” he said.
According to FBI statistics, there’s a spike in cyber crime around the world. They are getting between 3,000 to 4,000 calls about cyber crime.
“If you travel, be careful because of the coronavirus and crime is also an issue,” he said.
The Memorial Day holiday was a little different for the sheriff and his family this year.
“I took the day to reflect on all the young men I knew who fought, served our country and didn’t come back home,” said Lenhart. “I talked to my family, and I didn’t realize how this had impacted them through the years.”
“I’ve done a story on how the different legions and VFW’s in the county were named,” he said. “I’m a veteran, but I was a popcorn soldier.”
Lenhart said he has taken part in various Memorial Day salutes. One in Bellefontaine stands out because the mother of a soldier who didn’t come home thanked him after the service for honoring her son.
“She told me I reminded her of her son,” said Lenhart.
He said during a Port Jefferson memorial he recalled that the soldiers who didn’t come home were “18, 19 and 20 year old farm boys, just like me.”
“Many of them had never been out of the state before,” said Lenhart. “And they never came back.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.