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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio House Leader Says He Cannot Require Lawmakers To Wear Masks

Speaker Householder speaks to reporters
Karen Kasler
Speaker Householder speaks to reporters

The leader of the Ohio House of Representatives says he cannot compel members to practice some of the safety measures recommended by Ohio’s health director to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says he has limited authority over what members of the Ohio House do because they are elected.“I can’t keep them away from here. I can’t require them to have their temperature taken. I can’t require them to wear a mask. I can’t even require them not to sit in their chairs. If the members want to sit in their chairs and cast their votes, there’s nothing I can do about that," Householder says.

 Householder himself, along with most Republicans, do not wear masks in the chamber. And at least one house member, Representative Candice Keller (R-Middletown) is refusing to have her temperature taken upon entering the building where lawmakers work. Governor DeWine has required some employees to wear masks as part of some of the state's plans allowing businesses to reopen.  Representative Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), who also refuses to wear masks, has introduced a bill that would take the authority to require Ohioans to wear masks away from the governor and put that power with the legislature instead. 

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.