CLEVELAND — Health orders have officially come to an end in Ohio.
“It's an individual choice that everybody needs to make for themselves. It's everybody's choice. If you want to wear a mask, that's great. If you don't and you’re vaccinated, that's great,” Alison Breidigam said. “It's wonderful. I think that we're getting back to normal and everybody can go out and be themselves and not feel restricted.”
Ohioans are now free to choose whether to wear masks in public unless a private business states otherwise.
“We actually have started to go back to pre-COVID seating capacities,” Kevin Thomas of Western Reserve Distillers said.
The end of the statewide mask mandate is a countdown Ohioans have been watching closely.
“Cases are dropping, so I think it is time for it to actually return to normal,” Nick Breidigam said. “With what I do for work, I'm constantly always wearing a mask and stuff like that, so it was actually pretty refreshing to not wear a mask. It was a little weird not seeing people with masks today.”
Events large and small are returning without restrictions.
“Back to normal,” Bobby Rutter said. “There's no capacity restrictions.”
FWD Day + Nightclub in The Flats kicked off its summer season with a sold-out show.
“We've been closed down since about mid-last July. We’re a 1,000 person outdoor daylife/nightlife venue. We bring in a lot of the biggest DJs from all across the country,” Rutter said. “Tonight we wanted to throw basically our biggest show ever. Probably one of the biggest ones in Ohio. We're not the size of Progressive Field, but it's similar in terms of it's all outside. It's entertainment-based. People want to really get back to person-to-person interaction and see shows again.”
Western Reserve Distillers hosted a more intimate, indoor crowd during a cocktail tasting class with limited seats.
“There's been a huge demand for classes particularly in the last two to three weeks. We are going to take it a little bit slow on the inside,” Thomas said. “We've kind of limited the capacity to around 10 people. We’ll be increasing it up to probably 20 or 25 people as we go forward. We’re definitely looking forward to a strong week this week as more of the restrictions come off.”
Maria Barrett attended the event with her husband.
“The bartender who's teaching the class started with the mask on and it was hard to hear, so I'm glad that he was able to take it off,” Barrett said. “I will not wear a mask anymore unless it's required by the place that I go to.”
Alison Breidigam said she’s fully vaccinated and ultimately believes people should now reserve the right to choose whether to wear a facial covering in public.
“You do notice sometimes when you go in and you're not wearing a mask, people sometimes move away from you, but that's okay,” Breidigam said. “That's their choice.”