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

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton wear homemade masks when in public places.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton wear homemade masks when in public places.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reversed course on his mask mandate this week and switched to a “strong recommendation” that Ohioans wear masks when shopping.

“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.

Readers had a lot to say on the Dayton Daily News Facebook page about whether Ohioans should wear mask and if it should be a government mandate:

Paula Hogan: I think it is unfair for those of us that work an essential job and are exposed every day. From day one we as employees have worn to protect our customers yet majority of our customers do not wear. Customers need to care about those of us working to provide service to them.

Cheryl Embree Spencer: I think it's ridiculous to mandate it six or seven weeks into this …. seems if it was so bad and so contagious and so deadly that this would have been mandated at the very beginning, not when most of the stats seem to be flattening!!!!!

Beth Miller: I think it's dumb that they aren't being mandated. He is putting all of the workers at risk by not requiring shoppers to wear masks. And everyone that is saying they shouldn't have to wear a mask should have to work in retail during this time and then see if you change your tune.

Andrea Hamsik Geswein: Keeping some dirty homemade mask in your pocket/purse and taking it out 50 times a day isn't going to help anyone! It's so gross! There is no way people are wearing them all day, not touching them, and then safely sanitizing them and storing them after each use! This is giving people a false sense of safety!

Mary Bussinger Fessler: I think they should be required. Some people just don't have enough sense to make the right decision for the overall welfare of our society on their own.

Rebecca Harris: I agree with the recommendation, not with the mandate. Ohio is not yet a police state, like New York or California. People who are sick or afraid should stay home, or if they have to go out, by all means wear a mask.