DeWine Extends Mask Order to All Ohio Counties

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefing Wednesday, he announced all Ohioans are now ordered to wear masks when in public, regardless of the county’s risk level.

The order takes effect 6 p.m. Thursday. It’s an addendum to the order announced earlier this month requiring residents in counties at the red or purple levels of the Public Health Advisory System to wear masks when in public.

Last week, the governor held a rare evening briefing when he encouraged all Ohioans to wear a mask in public, regardless of their county’s risk level, stopping short of a full mandate. On Wednesday, he took that step, saying “it’s essential that we wear masks statewide” to keep the virus down.

“It will make a difference in what our fall looks like,” DeWine said. “What we do between now and the next several weeks will determine what our fall is like. We all want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports, we want to see a lot of different things.”

In the last few weeks, DeWine has spoken with the state’s 113 health commissioners, as well as a number of mayors and county commissioners. Those in the current red counties report that more residents are wearing masks, and preliminary data indicates that the rate of increased cases of COVID-19 in those counties has slowed, which he attributes in part to wearing masks.

“We can’t say we’re at a plateau, but the rate of increase has certainly slowed,” he said.

The preliminary data also shows that more counties will be in the red when the data is released Thursday, he noted.

“We know from what’s happening nationwide, we know from what medical science tells us now,” he says. “We know that the wearing of masks in those yellow counties and orange counties will make a difference and may help those counties from turning red.”

The order states anyone in an indoor location that’s not their home or outdoors in a situation where six-feet of distance cannot be maintained must wear a mask. Exceptions include:

  • The individual is under 10 years old
  • A medical condition including those with respiratory conditions that restrict breathing, mental health conditions, or disability contradicts the wearing of a face covering
  • The individual is communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired or has another disability, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • The individual is alone in an enclosed space, such as an office, or in lieu of an enclosed space, the individual is separated by at least six feet in all directions from all other individuals, and in either case the space is not intended for use or access by the public
  • The individual is actively engaged in exercise in a gym or indoor facility so long as six or more feet of separation between individuals exists
  • The individual is actively participating in athletic practice, scrimmage, or competition that is permitted under a separate Department of Health order
  • The individual is actively engaged in a public safety capacity, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters or emergency medical personnel
  • The individual is seated and actively consuming food or beverage in a restaurant or bar
  • Facial coverings are prohibited by law or regulation, or in violation of documented industry standards or of a business’ documented safety policies
  • Individual is actively participating in broadcast communications
  • Individual is an officiant of a religious service
  • Individual is in an industrial or manufacturing facility where employees are separated by at least six feet in all directions or by a barrier in a manufacturing line or work area

As more people are wearing masks, there will be those who do not, DeWine said. “I would also urge my fellow Ohioans not to be judgmental,” and to assume that anyone not wearing a mask has “a legitimate reason” for not doing so.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.