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Ben Asks a Question: What does COVID-19 mean for summer activities outdoors?

Posted at 7:07 PM, Apr 21, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Gov. Mike DeWine continues to prepare Ohio to gradually reopen starting May 1, many Ohioans want to know whether it will be acceptable to take part in normal summer activities in the near future. Today, I asked Ohio’s Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, about just that.

Based on a question sent in by WCPO viewer Ellie Kraft, I asked Acton whether it will become acceptable for children to play outside with their friends, or for families to travel out of state as more restrictions are lifted. Acton said that while some businesses will attempt to get back to normal, Ohioans should still work to stay at home as much as possible.

Ben Asks a Question is a feature we started as a way to help give you a voice during Gov. Mike DeWine's daily press briefings. Since then, Ben has gotten hundreds of questions a day. If you'd like to ask a question, find us on Facebook and feel free to message us there, or send us an email at newsdesk@wcpo.com.

“The biggest thing we face is social distancing. It really still will be those basic rules of six feet. Now, masks are going to help, but please know, everyone, it does not replace keeping that distancing,” said Acton. “In the beginning and for the foreseeable future, and this is me telling people truth, I know people might not want to hear this truth. But to the extent that we can stay in our household units is the best.”

Acton told Ohioans who begin to go back to work at the start of next month to keep limiting their time outside the home.

“The truth of this is, when you even think about going to work, it should be essential,” said Acton. “You should be going to work and coming back home. And still doing the, go to the grocery store once a week if you’re healthy, and wear your mask while you’re out there. The truth is we should still be in our clans for quite some time to come.”

WBNS’ Kevin Landers asked DeWine a similar question during Tuesday’s press briefing as well, asking whether pools, zoos and museums will be open for visitors in the coming weeks. DeWine’s response emphasized the number of outdoor activities that are already available, while urging parents to weigh the risks and benefits of letting their children partake in certain activities.

“Part of this is a balance, how do you reduce the risk of infection, but at the same time have a good time, let kids get out,” said DeWine. “Our state parks are open, every park but one. So there’s ample opportunity for kids to go out there. There’s metro parks that are open in many, many parts of the state … The reality has not changed. The reality is that we have kept the curve down, so our hospitals are not overrun. But we still have the virus out there, and there is still the threat of that virus … Whatever I say as Governor, what parents ought to think about is ‘what are the risks?'”

As of Tuesday, Ohio is set to begin gradually reopening businesses at the start of May. A number of other states, like Georgia, are set to begin reopening even sooner.