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Ohio changes mask policy back, again requires anyone returning to work to wear one

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Posted at 12:30 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 14:30:29-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second time in two days, the state of Ohio's mandatory requirements for businesses reopening this month have been revised.

The revision — which was made without a news release — now requires masks for employees and distributors in all business sectors slated to reopen in May. It's a return to the original requirements introduced by the state on Monday.

On Tuesday, DeWine had said was changing the policy on masks from "required for everyone" to "highly recommended" — a change that critics called dangerous.

The revision has been reflected in the Responsible Protocols section on the state's Responsible RestartOhio plan website.

On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state's plan to begin lifting restrictions on non-essential businesses in Ohio. The plan begins with the resumption of elective medical procedures and operations on May 1.

Offices, manufacturing, distribution and construction are allowed to reopen on May 4, and retail, service and consumer businesses are allowed to reopen on May 12.

As a requirement for all business sectors reopening under the original plan was that all employees, guests, customers and clients wear face masks while working or visiting the businesses.

The state's Sector Specific Operating Requirements adds additional caveats to the face mask requirement:

For Manufacturing, Distribution and Construction:

Face coverings are required for employees and distributors, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/ regulations.

For Consumer, Retail and Services:

Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations.

For General Office Environments:

Face coverings are required for all employees, unless not advisable by a healthcare professional, against documented industry best practices, or not permitted by federal or state laws/regulations.

A face covering is not required if an employee is working alone in an enclosed office space.

On Tuesday, DeWine walked that requirement back during his daily coronavirus news briefing, saying that the policy was "offensive" to some Ohioans.

"Within the last 24 hours, it's really been made clear to me that a mandatory mask requirement for people who are shopping, going into a retail business, is offensive to some of our fellow Ohioans," DeWine said. "I've also heard, for some people, this is a difficult thing to do."

He said he received a call from a mother who shared her story about her son with autism and the challenges wearing a mask would bring to her and her son.

DeWine said that he strongly recommended everyone getting back to work should wear a face mask, but the choice to wear one would be left to the individual.

DeWine was expected to address the reversal back to requiring masks during his daily press conference, which took place at 2 p.m.

This story was originally published by Ian Cross on WEWS in Cleveland.