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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Feedback From Businesses Led DeWine To Reverse Ohio's Mask Rule

Updated: 4:19 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ohio officials said on Wednesday that they reversed course on a requirement for all customers to wear masks before entering stores when they begin to reopen in May based on feedback from businesses.

According to Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, employers had many questions about how to enforce the new rule.

“You are asking us to be the police for your policy,” said Husted, describing the feedback he received. “And they didn’t like this.”

Husted said he had intended to spend the day working on a plan for reopening restaurants and other businesses, but felt the need to directly address concerns about the requirement originally announced Monday.

“You have a governor that listens, he tries to get the best advice from everybody,” Husted said.

Gov. Mike DeWine said earlier that the reversal was based on feedback that the face mask requirement was “offensive.”

"I heard from a lot of different people who felt that, 'I may wear a mask, or I may not wear a mask, but the government should not be telling me what to do,'" DeWine said at his daily press conference Tuesday.

Under the revised guidelines, all employees will be required to wear a mask when employers start reopening in May. Exceptions will be made for safety concerns, if wearing a mask is against state or federal law, if an employee works alone or in industries and factories where clear communication is necessary.

Customers are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and a business can refuse to serve people who do not wear one.  

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio

As of Wednesday afternoon there were 17,303 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus in Ohio, an increase of 534 cases in the last 24 hours. There were 937 confirmed and probable deaths.

According to Dr. Amy Acton, director of Ohio’s Department of Health, there’s been a slight uptick in hospitalizations at the state’s large medical centers.

Class Of 2020 Graduations

Ohio’s Department of Education released guidelines for 2020 graduation ceremonies on Wednesday.

“Due to the infectiousness of COVID-19, this year of course everything has to be different,” DeWine said of the recommendations for holding ceremonies during the pandemic.

The first option is a virtual ceremony, where graduates are recognized on an online platform. The education department referred local officials to social media for guidance: “There are many good examples to be found on social media of virtual graduation ceremonies using technology.”

The second choice is what the governor called a drive-thru ceremony, where graduates drive to the school to receive their diplomas. Either the student would get out of the car and receive the diploma while the family waits or they would roll down the window and the principal would hand the diploma to the graduate.

A third option would be held at the school auditorium, with no more than 10 people gathered inside at once. Each family would be called inside separately, the graduate would walk across the stage to receive their diploma, and then the family would go back to their car.

State officials are leaving which option to use up to local boards of education.

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