‘Back to basics’ health order focuses on face masks, social distancing, large gatherings

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings is central to a new public health order issued Monday by the Ohio Department of Health.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced during a Monday press briefing that the new “common sense” order would consolidate previous orders.

“Our understanding of this virus and how it spreads is much more advanced than it was when we first learned about coronavirus in early 2020,” DeWine stated in a Monday evening news release. “As we move to begin a new chapter in our fight against the pandemic, where more and more Ohioans are being vaccinated, this new order will focus on our best defense measures against COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, limiting large gatherings, being outside and practicing good hand hygiene.”

Stephanie McCloud, ODH director, signed the order Monday, which took effect immediately and will remain in force until she either rescinds or modifies it.

The order states that “everyone should wear a mask when engaging with others outside their household.”

It also encourages that activities be held outdoors when possible because “the spread of COVID-19 is significantly less outdoors and compared to indoors.”

DeWine has previously announced that when the state reaches a goal of 50 cases per 100,000 residents or less over a two-week period it will bring an end to the health orders.

“Continuing to wear a mask, socially distance and avoid large gatherings will get us to the goal … only by following the basic precautions can we continue to lower the number of cases,” the order states.

Social distancing requirements remain at six-feet of spacing in the new order, and congregating limits of 10 people also are still in force.

The governor said the order is “back to basics” and focuses more on what people can do.

Organizers and managers of large gatherings and events should discourage groups from congregating and standing too close together. When possible, there should be one-way traffic in buildings or other areas to help people maintain social distancing.

Signs should also be posted at all entrances reminding people to wear face masks and social distance.

Indoor events are limited to 25% capacity. Outdoor events do not have limited capacity.

When the governor was asked if the new health order was a way to get around a bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly limiting public health departments and order, DeWine said it had nothing to do with the lawmakers.

Read the full order below:

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