Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton wear homemade masks when in public places.
Photo: Laura A. Bischoff
Photo: Laura A. Bischoff

Coronavirus: When will you have to wear a mask in Ohio?

“Though it is not a mandate, wearing a face covering in retail locations is clearly in the best interest of all Ohioans. This gives added protection to others. When you wear a mask, you are protecting those around you from possibly getting sick,” DeWine said in a written statement.

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage

So where and when will you have to wear a mask or face covering?

• Workers will be mandated to wear face coverings unless not advisable by a health care professional, it goes against industry best practices, or it is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations.

• Employees working solo in an enclosed office will not be required to wear a mask.

• Business owners may choose to require customers to wear masks while inside their shops or offices.

On Monday, DeWine had said masks would be mandated in retail shops and workplaces, but after hearing from Ohioans, he determined that government mandate is seen as “offensive” by some. On Tuesday, he changed direction. And on Wednesday, he explained the switch.

“I’ve heard from everybody, it seems like, on this. People feel very, very strongly about it, at least the ones I’ve heard from. This was not an easy decision,” DeWine said.

When it came to a mask mandate for customers, DeWine said it quickly became apparent that “a significant number of Ohioans simply would not accept it and that was my judgment that this was a bridge too far.”

Some Ohioans applauded DeWine for backing off the mask mandate, while others criticized him for it.

“His decision protects the so-called rights of those who yelled the loudest, rather than the common good of all the rest of the citizens,” said Martha Clark of Trotwood, whose health issues put her at risk of complications from coronavirus.

She added, “A lot of people do not keep their distance, and the only thing that would protect someone like me would be if they had a face covering, like I wear to protect them. But those same people who don’t keep their distance are the same ones who won’t wear a mask unless it is mandatory.”

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Mark Jones, chief executive of SEEPEX Inc. in Enon, said he’d like a definition of what qualifies as a facial covering, what guidance should be followed for mask hygiene and when exceptions can be made.

“For me the entire topic is unclear, and we have no detailed written guidelines,” Jones said.

The coronavirus can spread between people in close proximity — even if the infected person is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 3 issued recommendations that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing might be difficult, such as grocery stores, and especially in areas of significant community spread.

Cloth face coverings should: fit snugly but comfortably; be secured with ties or ear loops; include multiple layers of fabric but allow for breathing without restriction; be routinely washed and dried. Coverings are not recommended for children under age 2 or anyone with breathing problems.

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