TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is issuing a curfew for Ohioans starting Thursday in order to reduce the risk of exposure to and spread of the COVID-19 virus in the state.
"What else can we do? If I could summarize, it's wear a mask and have fewer contacts," DeWine said.
The curfew starts Thursday at 10 p.m. and lasts until 5 a.m. every day for 21 days.
During that time, businesses will be required to be closed and citizens will be expected to be at their residences.
"Each one of us will make a difference. If we can cut down contacts by 20-25 percent, this will make a difference. Paired with mask-wearing, this will go a long way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun," he said.
This does not apply to people who need to be at work during those hours or anyone who has an emergency. It's also not to stop people from getting a meal or necessary groceries, DeWine said.
"The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries, a carry-out/drive-thru meal, or delivery. A lot of this is common sense," DeWine said.
In addition to the curfew going into effect Thursday, DeWine is also asking each Ohioan to do one thing that reduces contact with others.
"We think it's the right step at the right time," said Ohio Restaurant Association President John Barker said during the press conference. "It's going to allow Ohioans to do their part without having what we thought would be an immediate and disastrous impact on restaurants and thousands of employees if we shut everything down."
When asked if he'd totally ruled out closing bars and restaurants, DeWine said the curfew will be tried out first, but didn't say it was completely ruled out.
"We looked at this and frankly we heard from people who worked at bars and restaurants. ... What we've tried to do is balance things, but we have to take action," DeWine said. "We're going to try this (curfew) for three weeks. This coupled with mask-wearing enforcement in retail ... that along with the request for everyone to do one, two or three other things to reduce the number of contacts you have with someone else ... if we can do these things, we'll avoid a shutdown. But no one can predict the future."
In addition to the curfew, he urged a back-to-basics mentality, reducing the number of people that Ohioans come into contact with in order to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
"We're not talking about closing any businesses like we did then (in March and April) but to limit contact," he said.
DeWine also called attention to the fact that all counties are well above the CDC's high incidence levels thresholds.
"Every single county in Ohio has a high incidence of COVID-19. Every county is at least two times the high incidence level set by the CDC," he said. "If you look at the top 20, these are astronomical numbers. It's the reason for the mask, it's the reason for the distancing."
The governor also discussed the good news of vaccines on the horizon, but cautioned that more needs to be done to bridge the gap between now and when the vaccines can be distributed after they are approved.
He noted that inspectors have been out to retail establishments to make sure that the revised health orders that went into effect are being followed.
"We have had some reports that before Monday when the new mask order in retail establishments was issued, that more people have been wearing them," DeWine said.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported:
- 7,079 new cases of coronavirus compared to the 21-day average of 5,224
- 30 deaths compared to the 21-day average of 25
- 368 hospitalizations compared to the 21-day average of 210
- 27 ICU admissions compared to the 21-day average of 23
GRAPHS | Ohio COVID-19 Data, Nov. 17, 2020
REVISED RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT
The governor addressed Ohioans directly on Nov. 11, during which he issued a new order impacting open congregate areas like banquet halls, added onto the current mask order and warned that restaurants and gyms could close should numbers continue to rise.
DeWine acknowledged Thursday that those announcements may not be well-received, but said that he believes he is doing what is necessary.
"We'd be irresponsible at this point not to take actions," DeWine said.
The governor said that while his administration doesn't want to close a single business, medical experts have told him that the state can't continue on its current path.
On Monday, Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes signed a revised health order further limiting mass gatherings in the state, which went into effect Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 12:01 a.m.
In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through airborne particles passing between people in close contact, wedding receptions, funeral repasts, and other events at banquet facilities are subject to the following restrictions:
- No socializing or activities in open congregate areas and no dancing.
- Guests must be seated at all times. Traditional wedding reception events such as first dance, toasts, tossing the bouquet and cutting the cake are permitted.
- If serving food and beverages, guests must be served at their seats. No self-serve buffets and no self-serve bar areas permitted.
- Masks must be worn at all times unless actively consuming food or beverages.
- No more than 10 people should be seated at a table and those individuals must be from the same household.
THANKSGIVING AND FAMILY GATHERINGS
During last week's address, DeWine discussed what this holiday season might look like.
“Please remember that when someone you don’t live with – not in your household – enters your bubble, it puts everyone you live with at risk,” he said. “Even our family and our closest friends can bring COVID into our homes. They don’t do it intentionally, but it happens when they don’t know that they have the virus. We just need to avoid any unnecessary and additional risk right now. If you’re going to be with people who don’t live in your home, if you feel there is something you just have to do, please make sure everyone is at least wearing a mask. It matters.”
It seems likely he'll continue to address the topic and perhaps issue more specific guidance in the time between now and next Thursday.