Gov. DeWine Rolls Back Public Face Mask Mandate for Customers

The Responsible RestartOhio plan now says it "recommends" them for clients and customers at all times versus requires them

click to enlarge Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine - PHOTO: OHIO CHANNEL YOUTUBE
Photo: Ohio Channel YouTube
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

While the wearing of cloth face masks or face coverings in public settings was initially part of a mandatory series of protocols listed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health for part of the Responsible RestartOhio Plan, that guidance has since been walked back.

In his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, DeWine said that mask wearing for customers/clients in a public setting is now a recommendation. The Ohio Department of Health has also updated its graphics to reflect the change. 

This is the original graphic from yesterday's press briefing:

This is from Tuesday afternoon:

DeWine said the state changed its tone on the masks after receiving feedback from the public.

"Within the last 24 hours, it's really become 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. "And I understand that."

"I've also heard for some people this is a difficult thing to do," he continued. "And I got a call last night from a mom, who I did not know, and we had a great conversation. I listened to her. And she talked about her son, who is autistic, and she explained to me how he saw things, how he felt things, and that that (mask wearing) presented a real problem for him.

"And so we made the decision that for retail customers, this is not going to be mandated. The government's not going to mandate that." 

He added, however, that if you are able to wear a mask in public, it is a strong recommendation that you do so. 

You can check out the sector specific operating requirement updates now for manufacturing, distribution and construction; consumer, retail and services; and general office environments

In his press release regarding face coverings, DeWine said although it is not a government mandate to require customers to wear masks, individual businesses can develop their own policies regarding customers wearing face coverings. He again added that wearing some kind of face mask or face covering in public is strongly recommended.

"As Governor, it is my responsibility to make the tough decisions, but it is also my responsibility to listen and be respectful of the thoughts and ideas of our fellow Ohioans," he said. "Though it is not a mandate, wearing a face covering in retail locations is clearly in the best interest of all Ohioans. This gives added protection to others. When you wear a mask, you are protecting those around you from possibly getting sick."

The press release also says, "Face coverings would still be mandated for employees unless wearing a face covering is not advisable by a healthcare professional, goes against industry best practices, or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations."

This information regarding employee mask-wearing is updated from the graphics released Tuesday afternoon for individual sectors, which walked backed the initial mask mandate. Tuesday afternoon it said masks were strongly recommended for employees in the above sectors. As of Wednesday morning, masks have now been moved back to the mandatory column. 

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