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ODH interim director signs order putting stricter limits on mass gatherings

The move is an effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19 at wedding receptions, funeral repasts, and other events at banquet facilities. It goes into effect Tuesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes signed a revised health order Monday further limiting mass gatherings in the state, which will go into effect Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 12:01 a.m.

“Despite the health order that limited mass gatherings to 10 people that was signed in April remaining in effect, we have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. "We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”  

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.

“We have a lot of cases right now, and the more we can limit the size and the number of our social gatherings, the more we're going to help create an environment where COVID can be prevented," said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Robison. "We're hoping people will make decisions that will keep them healthy! We want you to keep both your family and friends healthy as well as the broader community."

The revised order does not apply to religious observances; First Amendment-protected speech, including petition or referendum circulators, and any activity by media; and to governmental meetings which include meetings that are required to be open to the public.

For more information on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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