A curfew in Ohio from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. is now in effect.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the 21-day curfew Tuesday as coronavirus cases continued to surge across the state.
“We believe this will help reduce COVID-19 spread,” he said. “I’m also asking each Ohioan every day to do at least one thing that reduces your contact with others.”
The curfew does not apply people going to and from work, anyone getting groceries or picking up takeout, going to the hospital or picking up medicine, DeWine said.
“The goal is to have fewer contacts,” he said. “The whole idea is if you can slow these contacts down it will go a long way in slowing this virus down.”
Violation of the curfew would be a second-degree misdemeanor, DeWine said.
Under the curfew, the governor said he doesn’t anticipate police pulling over motorists over after 10 p.m. But, if there’s a group of people hanging out at a park after 10 p.m., an officer might want to talk to them.
DeWine asked Ohioans to cut down contact with non-household members by 20 to 25%.
“Paired with mask-wearing, this will go a long way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that of all the options discussed with business leaders and other officials, the 21-day curfew was considered the least the disruptive to businesses while still working to slow the spread of the virus.
John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said the group is in support of the curfew.
“We think it’s the right step at the right time,” he said. “We believe the curfew is the best choice to slow things down.”
Barker said that the group is happy with the exemption that will allow takeout orders after 10 p.m., noting that it will help restaurants continue to serve customers working second shift.
When DeWine was asked if he was still considering closing bars and restaurants the governor said the state will first try the 21-day curfew. Once the three weeks have passed, then the governor and officials will re-evaluate.
In addition to cutting down contact with others and wearing face masks, DeWine said he’s confident that the curfew will help knock down cases without shutting any industries down.
He called a shutdown “dramatic” and noted that another complete shutdown would have other consequences.
“I had to balance the bad things that could happen with the positive things,” DeWine said.
As of Tuesday, all of Ohio’s 88 counties meet the CDC’s definition for high-incidence, DeWine said. Every county is also at least two times the high-incidence level, which is 100 cases per 100,000 residents.
Putnam County, which has the highest incidence rate in Ohio, has reported 1,323.1 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks. Meigs County is the lowest with 227 cases per 100,000.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer, stressed the importance of following safety guidelines, saying that if a person plans on spending time with others inside, they should wear a face mask and consider cracking a window to help with ventilation.
“The science is absolutely clear,” he said.
Cases and hospitalizations continued to increase in Ohio, with 7,079 daily cases and 368 hospitalizations reported Tuesday.
Vanderhoff noted that Ohio’s hospitals have the capacity to treat COVID-19 and other patients. However, staffing is limited as health officials get sick while being out in the community, he said.
“We all need to do absolutely everything we can to contain the spread of this virus," Vanderhoff said. "We’re at a critical juncture.”
Last week, the governor said that he was considering additional actions after weeks of cases and hospitalizations surging in the state.