COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine confirmed the state’s curfew has expired, but urged residents to stay vigilant so as not to increase hospitalizations.  

The curfew, which had been running nightly from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., was last extended on Jan. 27. At the time, DeWine said state health officials would monitor hospitalizations related to COVID-19 for two weeks, and if they declined enough, the curfew could be dropped.

During his Thursday briefing, DeWine warned that if hospitalizations began increasing again, the Ohio Department of Health may reinstate the curfew.

“It’s very important, and doctors will say it’s very important for us to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Let’s get the vaccine into our arms as quick as we can, but at the same time, we’ve got to continue to wear a mask, we’ve got to continue to keep the distancing,” said DeWine.  

The curfew, which started in November and originally began nightly at 10 p.m., was designed to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. But the number of confirmed hospitalizations has dropped consistently in recent weeks, with them below 3,000 every day since Jan. 26.

Thursday’s hospitalizations of 1,862 was the 10th straight day with cases below 2,500.

DeWine had said that if confirmed hospitalizations stayed below 2,500 for seven straight days that the curfew would end.

When the curfew was introduced, COVID-19 cases were sharply increasing and the holiday season was about to begin. DeWine called it was a “bridge” until a vaccine was available. The first two COVID-19 vaccines were approved in December.

Curfew exceptions included people traveling for work, getting medicine, food or groceries, or for emergencies.

The bar and restaurant industry complained about lost business caused by the curfew, especially as it has dealt with having fewer customers overall because of the pandemic. The curfew’s end will allow bars and restaurants, in addition to retail businesses, to resume late-night hours.