CLEVELAND — During a rare Wednesday evening statewide address, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will be lifting COVID-19 health orders and that it would be offering scholarships and $1 million cash prizes to incentivize Ohioans to get vaccinated.
DeWine said the mandates will end on June 2.
"And so now, let’s talk about the health orders. For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has truly worked," DeWine said.
It’s time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 12, 2021
And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon in the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize. pic.twitter.com/FC4Wm9Tf8T
DeWine said the June 2 date gives Ohioans enough time to either get the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, or start the vaccination process with the Pfizer or Moderna shot.
"Now, lifting these orders does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean we are all safe," DeWine said.
Businesses and schools will still be able to require masks and social distancing, if they choose to do so.
According to DeWine, nursing home health orders will remain in place.
Gov. DeWine also announced that beginning on Wednesday, May 26, and continuing for five Wednesdays, Ohioans who received at least one dose of the vaccine would be eligible to enter one of two drawings - one for those under 17, and the other for all adults in Ohio.
For residents under 17 who have been vaccinated, the winner of the drawing will receive a full, four-year scholarship to a State of Ohio university. The scholarship would include tuition, room and board, and books, DeWine said.
An online portal to register for this drawing will open up on May 18.
In a separate drawing for Ohio adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, the prize will be $1 million.
To be eligible to win, you must be an Ohio resident at least 18 or older on the day of the drawing, and you must be vaccinated before the drawing.
The pool of names for the drawing will be taken from the Ohio Secretary of State's publicly available voter registration database, and the state will make available a webpage for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not in the database.
The money for the drawings will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsored agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them.
"I know that some may say, 'DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" DeWine said. "But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic -- when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it -- is a life lost to COVID-19."
Cleveland Market Garden Brewery co-owner Sam McNulty was pleased with the announcement, but said his locations will likely keep some COVID-19 safety measures in place for employees beyond June 2.
At the same time, McNulty also said all COVID-19 restrictions will likely be lifted for customers.
“I was definitely was elated to hear the news," McNulty said.
“It’s too early to say but I do think my staff will remain masked, just to make sure everybody is feeling comfortable. We’re definitely going to be less Draconian with our rules, we’re just going to make sure everybody is comfortable."
"Let people navigate their own spatial awareness and how distanced they want to be.”
Dr. Amy Edwards, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Edwards believes it's too early remove the Ohio Department of Health from monitoring COVID-19 safety practices at Ohio businesses, placing and undue burden on owners for the health and well-being of employees and customers.
"If a business understands that it’s in their best interest to do a mask mandate, there is a segment of our population that is going to attack that business and that makes me really sad," Edwards said.
“That’s why we have the Department of Public health, that’s what we pay them for. So they should be doing this, not the companies. I completely disagree with leaving it up to the individual companies, I think that is a mistake."
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