COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine announced a curfew that will go into effect Thursday across Ohio.
DeWine announced Tuesday that the curfew will begin nightly at 10 p.m. and run through 5 a.m., and that it will last 21 days. All retail establishments must close by that time, and DeWine is encouraging Ohioans to be at home as much as possible during those hours. He called it an essential step to “build a bridge” from now until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 17, a total of 312,443 (+7,079) cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 5,772 (+30) deaths and 22,846 (+368) hospitalizations. The number of new cases has been above 5,500 every day since Nov. 10, and DeWine said that even if numbers level off, that it is still too dangerously high to not attempt something like the three-week curfew.
DeWine said there will be “common sense” exceptions, such as people traveling to and from work, getting food or groceries, and seeking medical attention. In addition, he is asking citizens to limit their contact with those outside their family over the next three weeks.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said a 21-day curfew was considered the least disruptive option to retail establishments while still being beneficial to the medical community, which is concerned that a surge in cases may lead to staffing shortages or force them to restrict nonessential procedures.
On Tuesday afternoon, three Central Ohio hospital systems — Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth and Mount Carmel — announced that they will not permit visitors, with limited exceptions, until further notice.
DeWine said last week he had been considering new restrictions for bars, restaurants and gyms, but now he is hopeful that the curfew will help more than selected closures.
The curfew will be evaluated after the 21 days, and it is DeWine’s latest measure in the last week to combat the spread of COVID-19. A new retail mask mandate went into effect Monday, and DeWine recently reissued an older order limiting gatherings to groups of 10.
The retail mask mandate requires all customers and employees of retail establishments to wear a mask, and businesses can be penalized if they don’t comply.
“Our goal is to protect the workers in the retail establishments, and also to protect the customers when they go in,” DeWine said.
He said the order on gatherings is designed to slow the spread at events such as receptions for weddings and funerals.