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Gov. DeWine announces Ohio health orders will end June 2

“There comes a time when individual responsibility simply must take over.”
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:36 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday said Ohio’s health orders will be removed effective June 2.

Restrictions will remain in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, but all other health orders, including capacity limits, social distancing rules and the mask mandate, will end three weeks from Wednesday.

The three-week runway gives time for those not vaccinated to get the vaccine, which DeWine at different points on Wednesday described as an “invisible shield” and a “proven weapon.”

The move leaves to Ohio businesses and schools the decision of what rules to impose for the safety of their customers, employers and students, DeWine said. Lifting the health orders will not prevent a business from imposing its own requirements.

“It is time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we asked you to do. You’ve bravely fought the virus. Now, the cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon in this vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can now utilize,” DeWine said.

“Each person now has access to a mighty weapon that they can use to get 100-percent protection, and it is now up to each Ohio citizen whether to use it or not. There comes a time when individual responsibility simply must take over.”

The move reflects a turnabout from April, when the governor announced a goal based on the state’s incident rate for lifting all health orders.

That goal was set at 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week span. Currently, Ohio’s incident rate is 123 cases per 100,000 residents.

The governor’s hand was forced in part by Senate Bill 22, which allows Ohio lawmakers to override agency regulations during declared states of emergency. The bill passed by a supermajority over DeWine’s veto last month. It goes into effect June 23.

>> DeWine’s ‘golden tickets:’ Everything we know about Ohio’s $1 million vaccination sweepstakes

Also Wednesday, DeWine announced a million-dollar contest for Ohio adults 18 and older who have received at least one vaccine dose.

Beginning May 26, the state will conduct drawings for five successive weeks. The winner each week will receive $1 million, sourced from Ohio’s federal coronavirus relief funds.

A separate contest for Ohio teens aged 12-17, also beginning May 26, will offer five full four-year scholarships to any state university in Ohio. An online portal will open for young people to register May 18.

The contests are meant as an incentive to encourage vaccinations.

>> How COVID-19 vaccines will work for kids in US | Deaths hit lowest level in 10 months

The state will begin vaccinating kids aged 12 and up with the Pfizer vaccine Thursday morning following a CDC panel’s recommendation for approval on Wednesday, according to DeWine.

“These vaccines for our kids cannot come soon enough,” he said.

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