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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 Ending Mask Mandate For Vaccinated People Along With Compliance Enforcement

Gov. Mike DeWine holds up a cloth face mask
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine holds up a cloth face mask

In a move to conform the state's health orders with federal guidance, Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) announced people in Ohio will no longer need to wear masks except for certain situations.

The new health order will allow people to stop wearing masks as long as they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

DeWine also announced the state will stop sending out investigators to  check compliance with the mask mandate, such as in retail establishments.

"We see no reason to have this group out because it's going to be impossible, it's going to be impossible for them to determine who's vaccinated and who is not vaccinated," says DeWine.

Watch: Gov. Mike DeWine discusses lifting mask requirements for people who are vaccinated.

Everyone must continue to wear masks in certain places, including:

  • Hospitals, health care settings
  • Public transportation
  • Businesses, employers that continue the requirement
  • Congregate care settings
  • Schools and daycares
  • Places where a large number of people are not vaccinated

The change is an effort to align with similar guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says fully vaccinated people can resume activities they did "prior to the pandemic" without wearing a mask. The CDC says people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to take precautions.

"What they have said is just that fundamental distinction now between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated and what each group really safely should be able to do," DeWine says, adding that it comes down the advise from medical experts. "If you're vaccinated, you're safe. If you're unvaccinated, you're generally not safe unless you're certainly wearing a mask and being very careful."

The new health order is meant to fill the gap between now and when all the health orders are expected to be lifted on June 2, with the exception of orders on nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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.