Gov. DeWine updates mask, social gathering orders, threatens closures in 1 week if trends don't improve

Adds enforcement to mask mandate, more restrictions to social gatherings
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Posted at 5:56 PM, Nov 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 12:55:56-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a special COVID-19 news conference Wednesday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced new health orders due to rising coronavirus cases in the state and said that if the number of cases in Ohio doesn't come down in the next week, restaurants and other businesses may be forced to close.

DeWine updated the mask mandate that he ordered in the summer.

The new update includes:

  • Each business posting a face-covering requirement sign at all public entrances.
  • Stores are responsible for employees and customers adhering to guidelines.
  • New Retail Compliance Unit that will inspect compliance.

The first violation of this order will bring about a written warning. A second violation will bring about the closure of the store for up to 24 hours.

DeWine also said that public gatherings must be limited to 10 people or less.

He said he will be ordering all open congregate areas at funeral and wedding venues to be closed. The order will require everyone to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks, and it will prohibit dancing and games.

If the current upward trend of COVID-19 cases continues, DeWine said, the state of Ohio will be forced to close restaurants, bars and fitness centers one week from Thursday.

DeWine said that schools overall have been doing an excellent job controlling the spread and ensuring kids are wearing masks, but said, "it is up to each and every one of us, what you do in the community," that will determine whether more schools will be forced to transition to virtual learning.

DeWine thanked the colleges and universities around Ohio for agreeing to finish the semester remotely instead of returning to in-person classes after Thanksgiving,

"I also want to thank them for reducing the number of students on campus. That has made a significant difference in helping keep the cases lower, and our campuses safer," DeWine said. "But unless we dramatically slow the community’s spread of this virus, our higher educational institutions in Ohio may have to remain virtual when school opens in January.”

DeWine continued to implore Ohioans to "get back to the basics" of mask-wearing, washing hands frequently, social distancing and keeping your home well-ventilated.

"I know you’re tired. I know you're worried," DeWine said. "I know you want this to be over. In words often attributed to Winston Churchill during one of the most dangerous and darkest times of World II: 'When you’re going through hell, keep going.' And so tonight. I ask you to keep going. Recommit to your individual efforts to stay safe. Because what you do in your private lives affects everyone."

Locally, residents reacted with high emotions on News 5's Facebook Live stream of the Governor's address.

Some were in support of the governor's new requirements, saying: "thank you, Governor DeWine, here in my town nobody is wearing their mask," and "do your job, fine businesses that don't comply because most aren't."

While other Northeast Ohio residents weren't very pleased with the governor's announcement saying: "we can make our own decisions as to who enters my home," and "if he closes the schools again, I suggest he be the one who stays home with them to oversee their remote learning."

Lake County Commissioner Ron Graham said there is no easy solution for the governor in his efforts to curtail this current COVID-19 spike.

“He’s doing the right thing. He is putting in some reasonable limits and structure in place, which I think is great," Graham said. "But my concern is that this will cause some push back along that population that really feels they have been infringed upon.”

On Wednesday, the state reported more than 5,800 new COVID-19 cases, which brought the statewide total to 267,356 cases. More than 5,600 people have died from coronavirus-related deaths in Ohio; 76 new deaths were reported today, more than triple the 21-day average of 23.

RELATED: 76 deaths triple Ohio's 21-day average as lagging indicators rise behind prolonged new case count

According to DeWine, Ohio is at a "critical" moment in the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, DeWine’s aggressive moves won him praise but have since made him a target of fellow Republicans who strafe under many of his mandates. More recently, he has tilted toward messages of personal responsibility, following the direction of governors in Republican-leaning states who resisted wide crackdowns.

DeWine, 73, who has been elected to almost every position in Ohio during a 40-year political career, said in a briefing last week that the infection spread within the state is not happening at bars and restaurants, but instead at family and social gatherings where few wear masks or socially distance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The CDC and the Ohio Department of Health are now recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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