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State Senator Wants To Get Rid Of Penalties For Business Owners In Governor's Recent Mask Mandate

Gov. Mike DeWine wears masks at beginning of COVID news conferences
Ohio Channel
Gov. Mike DeWine wears masks at beginning of COVID news conferences

A state senator says the enforcement provisions in Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate are unfair. It requires customers to wear masks and if they don’t, state inspectors could take action against the business owner with fines or even shutdown. 

Republican Sen. Dave Burke owns a pharmacy in Marysville. He says he’s worried about keeping his employees healthy so they can handle the high demands on his business. Burke says he’s not against asking people to wear a mask while in his store but thinks the provision that could take action against businesses is unfair.

“There’s no willful or wanton provision. If I wanted to go and wreck someone’s business, my family and I could just show up, roll in the door without masks, start walking around, send selfies of ourselves and pictures of ourselves and get that business closed down. Absolutely terrible.”

Burke explains the situation is further complicated because federal HIPAA laws keep businesses like his from asking about medical conditions that might cause someone not to wear a mask. He is frustrated that this new mandate is aimed at holding a business owner liable in this situation.

“You are going to close my business for 24 hours for actions that I might not be aware at all and yet I am going to be liable, even after best effort in full compliance. Absolutely insane. This is the kind of stuff I think just sends people over the edge.”

He wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would do away with the enforcement provisions. And he wants DeWine to work with lawmakers to come up with better ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the future.

Dewine had issued a mask mandate on all employees and customers enforced by retailers and businesses in April. Hours later he reversed that for customers, saying he’d heard criticism that the government shouldn’t order masks, and businesses shouldn’t be required to enforce that.

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.