Gov. DeWine reverses decision to make masks mandatory, now 'recommended' while shopping

Posted at 2:44 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 18:54:40-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A day after announcing masks would be mandatory for employees and those visiting the businesses that will be allowed to open under a new order by Gov. Mike DeWine, the state has changed course, and masks will no longer be mandated.

On Monday, the state’s website listed mandatory operating requirements and "Responsible Protocols" for all businesses as they begin to reopen as: "No mask, no work, no service, no exception. Require face coverings for employees and clients/customers at all times."

On Tuesday, wearing masks and face coverings were listed under the “Recommended Best Practices” section of the operating requirements for customers and employees.

“Within the last 24 hours, it's really been made clear to me that a mandatory mask requirement for people who are shopping, going into a retail business, is offensive to some of our fellow Ohioans,” DeWine said. “I’ve also heard, for some people, this is a difficult thing to do.”

He said he received a call from a mother who shared her story about her son with autism and the challenges wearing a mask would bring to her and her son.

The choice to wear a mask will be left up to the individual, but, at the urging of the state's businesses, he strongly recommends Ohioans wear masks and face coverings to help protect others from you if you are shedding the virus, which can happen without a person showing any symptoms.

DeWine said companies and employers can make the decision to turn away customers who are not wearing masks or face coverings as well as individually mandate their employees to wear face masks and coverings.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said she agrees with the decision to strongly recommend masks and face coverings rather than mandating them but urges people to wear them when they can.

“I support the fact that we’re not mandating wearing a face covering or a mask but I strongly suggest we do when we can,” Acton said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that while masks and face coverings are no longer listed as mandatory, wearing them is still part of following "best practices" to slow the spread of the virus.

Husted said they are working on a specific set of guidelines and FAQs to provide businesses so they better understand the new order.

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