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Gov. DeWine reverses reversal – face masks will now be required for employees

DeWine Mask
Posted at 10:41 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 15:31:41-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second time in two days, the state of Ohio’s mandatory requirements for businesses reopening this month have been revised, now requiring face masks for employees and distributors in all business sectors slated to reopen in May. This comes after the state revised its requirements on Tuesday from required for everyone to highly recommended.

According to the updated Responsible Protocols on the state’s Responsible RestartOhio plan website, the following applies to all businesses that will be allowed to reopen in May: “Require face coverings for employees and recommend them for clients/customers at all times.”

The state’s Sector Specific Operating Requirements adds additional caveats to the face mask requirement:

For Manufacturing, Distribution and Construction:

Face coverings are required for employees and distributors, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/ regulations

For Consumer, Retail and Services:

Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations

For General Office Environments:

Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations

A face covering is not required if an employee is working alone in an enclosed office space

On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state’s plan to begin reopening Ohio, beginning with medical procedures and operations being allowed beginning May 1, offices, manufacturing, distribution and construction allowed to reopen on May 4, and retail, service and consumer businesses allowed to reopen on May 12.

A requirement for all business sectors reopening under the original plan was that all employees, guests, customers and clients wear face masks while working or visiting the businesses.

On Tuesday, DeWine walked that requirement back during his daily coronavirus news briefing, saying that the policy was “offensive” to some Ohioans.

“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.

DeWine said that he strongly recommended everyone getting back to work wear a face mask, but the choice to wear one would be left to the individual.

Then, quietly and without a news release or social media announcement, the state’s ResponsibleRestart website was again updated to reflect that masks would be required, but just for employees and distributors, not clients, customers or guests.

Dan Tierney, DeWine’s press secretary, told the Akron-Beacon Journal revised online material posted Tuesday afternoon still stating masks were not required for employees in the workplace and stores was in error. The governor’s prepared remarks were silent on the topic, Tierney said.

The face mask requirement has been a matter of controversy since it was announced. A Facebook poll on the subject posted to the News 5 Facebook page Tuesday showed 64% of our viewers supported a mandatory mask requirement, while 36% did not think it should be mandatory. The topic has generated a high volume of comments across our social media platforms.

RELATED: The latest coronavirus updates: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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