(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — An order for people to wear face coverings while in stores was reversed last week because it “went too far,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Sunday.
DeWine reversed the order Tuesday, saying many Ohioans saw it as “one government mandate too far” and saying face coverings were strongly recommended but would no longer be required. He repeated that sentiment Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” calling it “a bridge too far” and saying, “People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do.”
“So my ability to communicate to the people of Ohio, frankly, I thought, was going to be really impeded and we would get hung up on the mandatory masks for someone going in as a customer and it just wasn’t going to work,” he said. “And so you got to know what you can do and what you can’t do.”
On Friday, the Republican governor extended the state shutdown until May 29 while also allowing retail stores to expand their business earlier than expected. He spoke as Ohio COVID-19 deaths topped 1,000 for the first time and as dozens of protesters of Ohio’s stay-at-home orders returned to the statehouse.
Construction companies, distributors, manufacturers and offices are allowed to reopen Monday, and retail businesses on May 12. Health care offices were allowed to reopen Friday. Bars and movie theaters remain closed, along with in-person dining at restaurants. Sporting events and concerts are still prohibited.
The governor said reopening Ohio is a “balancing” act between bringing the economy back while protecting people and added that he will be prepared to take action should the situation worsen again.
The governor earlier said multiple working groups were being formed to come up with the best and safest way to restart activities, including hair care, dining out, going to the gym, visiting libraries and participating in sporting events.
“So when we open tomorrow in regard to a lot of businesses as well as office, it’s going to be based upon really best practices that were laid out by people in those businesses who do that,” he said Sunday.
Ohio state health officials say the number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus has now reached 1,038.
The Ohio health department posted figures Sunday indicating 957 confirmed deaths and another 81 probable deaths associated with the virus.
The department noted more than 19,000 confirmed cases of the virus and a probable total of more than 19,900.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.