‘Stay Safe Ohio’ is not a stay-at-home order, DeWine says

Updated: May. 1, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - A modified stay-at-home order for Ohio will go into effect Friday night that allows businesses to slowly begin to reopen with precautions to try to curtail the spread of coronavirus.

Ohio has 18,743 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,002 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed the new order Thursday, and it was posted overnight to the state’s website.

In a statement announcing it Friday morning, DeWine’s office said “Ohio Department of Health has issued a ‘Stay Safe Ohio Order.’

"The new order, which incorporates the openings of businesses and services announced as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan, will replace the previous ‘Stay at Home’ order, which expires at 11:59 p.m. tonight,” DeWine’s office said in a statement Friday morning.

During DeWine’s briefing on Friday, he said ‘Stay Safe Ohio’ is not a stay-at-home order, and residents shouldn’t read too much into the date.

“Our new order goes into effect today. Not much new there that we haven’t already talked about here. But I do want to indicate the name: Stay Safe Ohio. It’s not a stay at home order. We have reached a new stage. But - it doesn’t mean the virus has gone away,” he said. “May 29th is the expiration date for the new order, but don’t read too much into that date. We will be issuing new orders throughout the month. No one should be too fixated on the date.”

Stay-at-home instructions are extended with modifications for work and shopping that DeWine announced earlier this week.

Some businesses are allowed to begin reopening starting Friday and continue Monday and May 12.

Businesses must require all employees to wear facial coverings except for some exemptions listed in the order. They also must allow all customers, contractors, and vendors to wear them.

“I do want to say that, personally, I don’t enjoy wearing a mask. I know most of you don’t enjoy it. But I’m going to wear a mask. Not because of the order. But because there are a lot of people in my life who are vulnerable," Lt. Governor John Husted said.

Here’s the schedule of openings:

  • Friday: All health procedures or operations that do not require overnight stays can be performed; Dental procedures; Veterinarians
  • Monday: Construction, manufacturing, distribution, general office. There will be strict guidelines and businesses are asked to continue having employees work from home if possible.
  • May 12: Retail, consumer

DeWine says as retail and consumer shops begin to open, they can schedule appointments for customers or offer curbside assistance.

“Today, people can go shopping if they call and make an appointment in places like a jewelry store. In 11 days they’ll be able to go to any store that is open. It’s coming. We have best practices, and we believe every store that will open will be following the best practices,” he said.

Some businesses and facilities are remaining closed in the new order including:

  • Schools, daycares, beauty salons, and gyms must remain closed.
  • So must public and private pools, unless they are at a single household.
  • Restaurants and bars are serving carryout and delivery meals only. In-person dining remains prohibited, according to the new order.
  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.

DeWine said they have a restaurant advisory group and barbershop/salon advisory group that has begun working. They’re also putting together groups for libraries, travel, tourism, sports, outdoor recreation, gym, theater, childcare, adult daycare, etc. to determine when it’s best to reopen.

“The goal is to put people who work in these sectors together to determine the best way to reopen,” he said. “We must continue to be careful. To lookout for those who are at a high-risk. We must continue social distancing. We’re on two tracks: staying safe and opening up. If you can continue doing what you have been doing, we will make it, and things will continue to open up.”

DeWine says he’s optimistic that we’ll be able to do a lot more things in July and August than we can do now.

“People are going to have to watch where this virus situation is," he said.

During his briefing, he acknowledged some residents believe Ohio is not moving fast enough to reopen and some think the reopenings are coming too fast. He stressed they are trying to make it right.

“Please remember we’re in this together Ohio. What each one of us does impacts our families, our friends, and even complete strangers. Whether you like it or not, we’re in this together. We are one state,” he said.

In part, the Stay Safe Ohio Order reads:

"Accordingly, to avoid an imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19, with a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the general population, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions, I hereby ORDER all persons are to continue to stay at home or their residence unless they are engaged in Essential Activities, Essential Government Functions, or to operate Essential and Unrestricted Businesses and Operations as set forth in this Order.

“This Order shall remain in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 29, 2020, unless the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this Order at a sooner time and date. To the extent any public official enforcing this Order has questions regarding what services are prohibited under this Order, the Director of Health hereby delegates to local health departments the authority to answer questions in writing and consistent with this Order.”

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