Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Wednesday evening the upcoming end to mask requirements and other health mandates.
He said he has asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most pandemic health orders on June 2. The timeline will allow Ohioans who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to get one before the lifting of coronavirus mitigation protocols, he added.
“It is time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus,” said DeWine. “And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”
Measures being removed will include facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.
DeWine announced that any pandemic health orders that would remain relate to either nursing homes and assisted living facilities or data collection related to the pandemic.
He took it a step further on Friday when he announced those who are fully vacinnated will not be required to wears facial coverings.
“Ohio will be amending our remaining health orders to comply with the new CDC guidance, which says that those who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, while those who have not been vaccinated should still wear a mask and socially distance,” said DeWine.
He said the vaccine allows live more normal lives without fear.
“As I said in my address to Ohioans on Wednesday, the more individuals who get vaccinated, the more the entire state is protected from the virus. The vaccine is our path out of the pandemic, and it is our best protection against the virus. We are on the offense, and the science is unequivocal: Vaccines are our best weapon to fight COVID-19 and save lives!”
“However, not all Ohioans have been vaccinated yet. The June 2nd date I announced for the removal of health orders provided time for those who had not yet gotten their vaccine to get it. While our order will be amended to reflect the new CDC guidance, it will remain in place until June 2nd.
He said Ohioans should remember that not everyone has been vaccinated, including those younger than 12 years of age.
“Individuals who have not been vaccinated should continue to wear masks pursuant to CDC recommendations. Businesses also have every right to continue to use masks and to require them for employees and customers,” said DeWine. “The experience in other states has been that some individuals may choose to wear masks, and many businesses, schools, hospitals, and other employers may choose to require masks in their buildings. That will remain their choice.”
Also on Wednesday the governor announced a series of statewide drawings to provide incentives to Ohioans to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
“For a year, Ohioans have made sacrifices to save lives and keep our state moving forward. What you have done has really worked. And now, we have a powerful weapon that is almost 100 percent effective in beating the virus,” DeWine said in his remarks. “Simply put, the vaccine is stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined. And now, everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves — to put an invisible shield of protection around themselves. Everyone can now control their own health—their own destiny.”
In an effort to increase the number of Ohioans who currently have not taken a COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated, Governor DeWine announced a series of statewide drawings.
Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio’s state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board. Ohioans aged 18 and older will be entered into a weekly drawing with a prize of up to $1 million.
A total of five weekly drawings for each prize will take place, with the first winners being announced on May 26. Winners must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the date of the respective drawing.
The drawings will be administered by the Ohio Department of Health, with technical assistance from the Ohio Lottery Commission, and will be funded through existing allocations to the Ohio Department of Health of unexpended coronavirus relief funds.
There has been some pushback to the drawings.
“I respectfully disagree with the announced lottery system that no member of the Ohio legislature, including me, voted for,” Republican State Senator Theresa Gavarone said on Twitter. “Quite simply, I believe the $$$ would be better spent assisting Ohioans and small businesses that have been negatively impacted by government health orders.”