CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that the state could order bars, restaurants, and fitness centers to close if Ohioans do not contain the spread of the coronavirus that has been spiking across the state in recent days.
“If the current trend continues, we’ll have to close these establishments,” he said.
State officials said they will make a decision a week from tomorrow on whether it is necessary to close those businesses to contain the virus.
The governor made the remarks during a public address Wednesday where he said the state was entering a third wave of the virus that he said is much more intense, wide-spread, and dangerous than the first two waves.
State will also create a taskforce to monitor mask wearing compliance in retail shops and reissued the state’s mask mandate.
The first time a business is caught violating the policy it will receive a written warning, DeWine said.
The second time they’re caught allowing customers or patrons to go mask-less they will be ordered closed for 24 hours.
Retail establishments will also be required to post face-covering signage and will be responsible for ensuring customers and employees are masked.
The governor expressed optimism about the reports that the novel coronavirus vaccine is highly effective, during his address.
But, he said, Ohioans could not let the virus spread uncontrollably until the vaccine is available.
He urged people not to attend social gatherings, including weddings, baby showers, or parties.
DeWine’s mandates include restrictions designed to curb these kinds of events.
“Open congregant” areas at businesses can no longer be open, he said. “Everyone to be seated and everyone has to wear a mask unless they are actively drinking or eating.”
DeWine said he understands it’s difficult to miss events with friends and family, but he underscored that the results of these get-togethers can be devastating.
The ability of critical institutions like schools and hospitals to remain open depends on the decisions of individuals.
“What we all do in the community impacts whether our kids can stay in school,” DeWine said. “No matter how good the schools are they can not over come wide spread Covid in the community.”
DeWine acknowledged that pandemic fatigue has set in across the state, but urged residents to recommit to fighting the spread of the virus: wear a mask and social distance.
He quoted Winston Churchill who was the prime minister of Great Britain during World War II.
“When you’re going through hell,” he said. “Keep going.”
DeWine’s remarks came after a wave of reports that indicate the virus is spreading rapidly through communities statewide.
The following day, the state reported an additional 5,874 cases;
The 24-hour totals for reported cases represent all the positive cases reported to the Ohio Department of Health on given day; not a total number of new infections in a single day.
According to state figures, 5,623 Ohioans have died from the coronavirus; 76 people reportedly died of the virus over the same 24-hour period.
At least 267,356 people have become ill in Ohio since the start of the pandemic.
Figures from the Ohio Department of Health show that there is approximately 25% capacity remaining for hospital beds.
As of Wednesday morning, the Department of Health said 5,547 Ohioans have died from the coronavirus with at least 261,482 cases reported statewide since the start of the pandemic.