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If new mask recommendations seem confusing, you're not alone

face mask required
Posted at 11:09 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 18:49:12-04

States like like Ohio and Kentucky have announced new mask recommendations and the CDC providing new guidelines, many details have been left up to individual businesses, causing some confusion about where people need to mask up and where they don't.

"It's kind of confusing, because it was trying to figure out what applies to me, what doesn't apply to me," said Kendall Sheppard, who lives in Colerain Township. "I wish there was a little bit more of a streamlined plan."

The CDC guidelines allow people who are fully vaccinated to ditch the masks and social distancing outside and indoors if it's not crowded.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced he would lift most statewide health orders by June 2 -- including the indoor mask mandate and capacity restrictions at businesses, events and venues.

About a week prior to DeWine's announcement, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that he would increase restaurants, bars and venues' capacity limits, both indoors and outdoors, and the statewide curfew on those businesses would not apply as of Friday, May 28. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its new guidance, Beshear said he had updated the state's mask guidance to reflect the CDC's, effective immediately.

To the west, in Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb removed the statewide mask mandate in March, leaving it up to local jurisdictions and businesses to decide whether to enforce capacity limits, social distancing or masking requirements.

Ohio and Kentucky both still require everyone to mask up on public transportation and in some health care settings. Indiana still requires masks and social distancing in all state government buildings.

People who are not vaccinated are supposed to keep following the original mask rules for now, but without a vaccine passport in use, most businesses are simply resorting to an honor system.

"I mean, it's kind of weird," said Nathan Wilson, a Cincinnati resident. "I'm not used to not having to wear a mask and I still bring my mask everywhere because I don't know what places require a mask, what places don't. It's just kind of random."

Bringing a mask along just in case is likely the best idea, since stores and private businesses can still require masks. Big retailers like Walmart, Target and Kroger are following local policies, so no masks are required there.

"I think as time goes on it will get easier and easier to decipher," said Valerie Wyatt, a Colerain Township resident.

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Senior Reporter Larry Seward is focusing his reporting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring you answers and information. Contact Larry at 513-667-4804 or larry.seward@wcpo.com.