From staff reports
Face coverings are now required statewide.
Gov. DeWine announced during his July 22 press conference that the Ohio Department of Health will now mandate the use of face masks in the state. The order will go into effect the following day at 6 p.m.
“Wearing masks will make a difference. It will determine what our fall looks like,” DeWine stated in a tweet. “We want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports — to do that it’s very important that all Ohioans wear a mask.”
Masks must be worn in indoor locations that are not residences; outdoors when people are not able to maintain six feet of physical distance from those not in your household; and when waiting for, driving, or riding in public transportation, according to the order.
This order only requires those who are 10 years of age or older to wear face coverings.
Those who have medical conditions or disabilities or must communicate with those who do are also exempt from this order. In addition, those who are actively exercising or playing sports, those who are officiants of a religious ceremony, or those who are involved in public safety are exempt. Lastly, people who are “actively eating food or drinking” may remove their masks.
A mask mandate was already implemented countywide by the state, as Athens County has been classified as a “Level 3” county in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
The Athens City-County Health Department noted in a July 16 press release that the “change in the alert level in Athens County is a response to the sustained increase in COVID-19 cases, the nature of the cases occurring as community spread and not in congregate settings, and an increase in the number of visits to the emergency department.”
The health department also noted that residents of red-level counties are required to wear a facial covering in public, an order that carries a “criminal penalty.”
“Everyone who can, must wear a facial covering and maintain safe distances of at least 6 feet from others. Through contact tracing of active cases, we now recognize how important it is to limit gatherings of any kind. They have been a significant contributor to the spread of the virus,” the health department stated.
Before then, a mask ordinance was passed in the City of Athens. Non-compliant individuals could incur a civil fine for refusing to put on a face covering, according to the ordinance. The $100 fine is noncriminal, meaning it would not appear on a person’s criminal record.