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A reminder: Ohio, unlike Texas and Mississippi, still has COVID-19 restrictions in place

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 3/3/2021 Joe Harrington, Cincinnati Enquirer
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On March 2, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that Texas was "OPEN 100%" and that all restrictions, including masks, were ending. 

Texas isn't alone. Mississippi also ended mask mandates. All together, 16 states don't or no longer have mask mandates: 

  • Texas
  • Mississippi 
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee

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So where does Ohio fit in? 

On March 3, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signaled that he was not going to lift the state's mask ban any time soon. Ohio has had increasing success in battling the spread of COVID-19 so far in 2021. The state has also steadily been vaccinating people-- reporting in February that one in eight Ohioans had received a vaccine.

a person sitting on a table: Annie Larkin takes an order at the bar, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Salem Gardens restaurant and bar in Anderson Township, Ohio. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer Annie Larkin takes an order at the bar, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Salem Gardens restaurant and bar in Anderson Township, Ohio.

Coronavirus infections have dropped 80% since December. 

It's not just masks that are still mandated. Ohio has a bevy of restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and with the rise of COVID-19 variants, like the UK Variant, in the state, most of those will stay in place for the time being. 

But there are some changes, right sports fans? 

Ohio will have fans in the stands: Daugherty: Thankfully, fans at games, 'We want to feel again'

In late February, DeWine announced two new orders, one allowed indoor venues to have a cap at 25% of fixed, seated capacity and outdoor venues capped at 30%. This applies to stadiums, arenas, theaters and other entertainment venues.

Here's a rundown on Ohio's COVID-19 orders and restrictions. 

The Ohio's mask mandate

Here is what Ohio.gov says: 

The requirement to wear cloth face coverings applies to employers and employees at Ohio workplaces. Businesses in the manufacturing, distribution, and construction industries are authorized to open May 4; general office environments are authorized to open May 4; and consumer, retail, and service locations are authorized to open May 12. 

There are some exceptions to the rule, but that is the baseline. 

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Ohio schools returning to in-person classes

DeWine wanted schools to return to in-person classes, at least part-time, on March 1. Many schools have already returned in Ohio. 

In February, DeWine had a press conference where he called out several school districts, including Akron and Cleveland City Schools, in the state who were planning to not meet the March deadline. 

Ohio schools: Gov. Mike DeWine: Akron schools not returning to classes by March 1 is 'unacceptable'

Akron schools will reopen on March 15. 

Students must still wear a mask. 

The gatherings and Ohio restaurants and bars

Right now, Ohio still has an order in place that restricts gatherings of more than 10 people outside of a single residence where they live.

But a new order announced in February lifts the capacity limit on restaurants, caterers and banquet halls ahead of prom, graduation and wedding season. A June 2020 order set a limit of 300 guests, as long as tables and groups of guests could be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

That is changed. 

Ohio Restaurants and bars: Eager for patio seating for pandemic spring, and cities are obliging

Such venues are no longer limited to 300 people, as long as all of the industry COVID-19 guidance in previous orders can be followed. Dancing, billiard tables and other entertainment are allowed. A November order had barred dancing and congregating in areas at gatherings as cases and hospitalizations surged.

The order also contains exemptions for religious gatherings, wedding ceremonies, funerals and speech protected by the First Amendment, such as petition signature collecting, activity by the media and governmental meetings.

Ohio never set capacity limits – bars and restaurants are limited by the number of people they can seat with at least 6 feet of distance between parties. Masks are required except when eating or drinking.

DeWine had considered closing all restaurants, bars and gyms in September but compromised with an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. That ended Feb. 11.

Many dining guidelines still vary by city in Ohio. 

Can Ohio go shopping at the mall?

Sure. But wear a mask and know that retailers must still follow all mandates, including having specialty hours for at-risk populations and continue to follow 6-foot social distancing guidelines. 

Looking for office supplies?: Advice on working at home from experts and people doing it

Does the Arnold Classic in Columbus have you wanting to go to the gym?

You can go to the gym and pump iron, run on the treadmill and keep your drifting New Year's Resolutions alive. But that doesn't mean Ohio has lifted any of the restrictions it placed on your local gym. 

One year of COVID-19: The Arnold became an early warning sign of Ohio's pandemic. When will the festival return?

Limited capacity, social distancing guidelines and log-in procedures are still in place.  Gyms can use fans, but they are limited. Fans must blow away from members. Gym employees must wear a mask and gym members are asked to wear a ask based on the activities they are doing.  

At child-centric training and instruction, the state is requesting parents and guardians to wait in parking lot.

COVID-19 cases by county in Ohio

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: A reminder: Ohio, unlike Texas and Mississippi, still has COVID-19 restrictions in place

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