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State Consolidating Health Orders To Go 'Back To Basics'

A "masks required" sign on a store in central Ohio
Karen Kasler
A "masks required" sign on a store in central Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health is issuing a new health order to pull back existing regulations and encompass most of the restrictions into one larger order.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) says this is an attempt to simplify COVID-19 orders down to the basics.

DeWine says most of the health orders currently in place will be reduced to four principles; wear masks, keep distance, wash hands, and keep gatherings outside if possible.

DeWine hopes rolling most of the existing measures into a larger, comprehensive order will reemphasize the importance of wearing a mask.

"It seems to me that those are things that just drive how we stay safe. Use your common sense, first of all, and understand that the virus is still out," says DeWine.

The change keeps indoor capacity limits at 25% but removes outdoor capacity limits. Replacing them with distancing protocols and keeping groups, or pods, to a maximum of 10 people.

The condensed order says all individuals must wear facial coverings at any indoor location that is not a residence, outdoors when one cannot maintain six feet of distance from people not from their own household, and while using public transportation or a car service. Several exemptions are also listed.

DeWine was asked if this was an attempt to sidestep a new process created by the Ohio Legislature that would allow them to rescind health orders.

The governor says this decision was not influenced by the actions of Ohio lawmakers, saying instead "We're trying to be clear. We're trying to get back to basics."

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.