Gov. Mike DeWine issued a 21-day curfew in Ohio during his Tuesday coronavirus briefing. The curfew will begin on Thursday, and is in effect nightly from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Retail establishments need to be closed and people need to be at home during the curfew period, the governor said.
“The bad news is that our situation in Ohio is deteriorating,” DeWine said. “We see more and more cases, more and more people in the hospital. We've got to turn this thing around.”
Exceptions to the curfew include going to and from work, receiving medical care or picking up medicine or groceries. Takeout and delivery at restaurants will still be permitted during the curfew hours, but serving food and drink in-person must end at 10 p.m. Grocery stores and pharmacies are not required to close during the curfew.
“It’s really not a business curfew, it’s a curfew. The goal is to have fewer contacts,” DeWine said. “The whole idea is, if you can slow these contacts down, that's going to go a long way to slow this virus down.”
DeWine said he did not anticipate law enforcement pulling over drivers after 10 p.m. but that police might, for example, stop and question a group of people gathering at a park at 10:30 p.m. Residents who violate the order could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.
“We literally have to build a bridge to get from here to the point when we're going to have the immunity from the vaccine,” DeWine said. “We’ve got to get over this bad, bad spot.”
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health said 7,079 new COVID-19 cases and 368 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported in the last 24 hours. Ohio currently has 3,648 hospitalized confirmed COVID patients, the state reported. Hospitalizations have gone up dramatically and COVID-positive ICU patients have nearly tripled since a month ago, DeWine said.
Every county in Ohio is at least twice the high incidence level set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the governor said. The state’s seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate is 12.8%.
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted said the curfew provides a balanced approach: it will reduce the spread of the virus while keeping businesses and schools open. He said the state was faced with the challenge of avoiding the unintended consequences of shutdowns related to mental health issues and addiction.
“Of all of the options we discussed with business leaders, health care community leaders, legislators, school leaders, a 21-day temporary curfew was considered the least disruptive option to our economy, but also believed to have a meaningfully positive impact for our health care providers. That’s the balance.” Husted said. “We don't need a shut down, but we do need to slow down for a few weeks to get this virus back into a manageable situation.”
John Barker, President and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said the curfew is the best choice to slow the spread of the virus and help people understand that they should be even more cautious at this time.
“We think it's the right step at the right time,” he said. “It's going to allow Ohioans to do their part without having what we thought would be an immediate and disastrous impact on restaurants and thousands of employees if we shut everything down.”
In addition to the curfew, DeWine asked each Ohioan to do at least one thing every day that reduces their contact with others, such as not getting together to watch an Ohio State game, or one thing that enhances their emotional contact with another person, such as calling a friend.
“Ask what you can do for your fellow man. Ask what you can do for the people of Ohio,” he said. “We are all in this together, and what each one of us does will make a difference.”