Home Coronavirus Pandemic Gov. DeWine issues new mask order, announces new restrictions on gatherings

Gov. DeWine issues new mask order, announces new restrictions on gatherings

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new statewide mask order and stricter rules for gatherings in an address to the state Wednesday night.

The new mask order makes businesses responsible for ensuring that customers wear masks. It also requires businesses to post a sign stating wearing a face covering is required.

DeWine said a new Retail Compliance Unit, composed of agents from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, will inspect businesses for compliance with the new mask order.

Businesses that do not comply with the mask-wearing policy will first get a warning. If a second violation of the order is reported, the business could face a 24-hour closure. The Retail Compliance Unit will be enforcing warnings and any potential closures.

“Every retail employee has the right to work in an environment that is as safe as can be, which means all customers must wear a mask.” DeWine said.

DeWine also acknowledged gatherings such as wedding receptions, funerals and baby showers have contributed to the rise in COVID-19 cases across Ohio. 

Under the tightened rules, everyone attending a gathering is required to wear a mask at all times, unless actively eating. Attendees of a gathering must be seated at their table for the duration of the event and dancing and games are prohibited.

While he does not yet have plans to close restaurants, bars or gyms, DeWine said he will be reevaluating that decision on Nov. 19. 

“I’m well aware of the burden this places on the owners, but these are places, candidly, where it’s difficult or impossible to maintain mask wearing,” DeWine said.

He implored Ohioans to wear a mask, asking them to remember their actions can affect their entire community. 

“What each Ohioan does in his or her own life impacts all of us. It impacts every community. It impacts every school, every nursing home, every hospital, every business,” DeWine said.

DeWine said if current trends in COVID-19 cases continue, the state could potentially postpone care for non-COVID or critical status patients due to a shortage in healthcare workers.

“Our healthcare workers are, quite frankly, exhausted. They’ve been running a marathon for nine straight months, and with this new wave and the onset of flu season, it’s like they’re starting the race all over again,” DeWine said.

On Wednesday, Ohio reported 5,874 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of total reported cases since the start of the pandemic up to 267,356.

Athens County had 287 active cases of COVID-19 as of publication and is at level 2 status on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Ohio remains in a state of emergency.

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