State planning new guidance for proms, festivals, graduations and events

Posted at 1:59 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 18:51:20-04

On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that new guidance for upcoming events like festivals, proms and graduations would be coming this week.

Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said they plan to release a new health order that will simplify and streamline the health orders that have been issued in the past year, since the pandemic began.

"The goal here today is to...get back to basics," said McCloud. "To make sure we can, in fact, have a smooth plan to the return to our lives, and getting folks to focus on those basic principles is going to be the most important thing."

The new health order will simplify guidance that became clunky and difficult to follow once the original health mandate, issued in March 2020, was amended so many times over the course of the year. Specifics about the order were not released, but DeWine and McCloud said the core of it would be reliant on the mask mandate, social distancing guidelines, and cleanliness requirements.

"We can do about anything we want to do. It's just how we do it," said DeWine.

Festivals, proms and other large events will be allowed, but they're encouraged to be held outside and with required masks. Groups attending events together should be limited to 10 or fewer people, but the event itself will not have a capacity limit if it's outdoors.

When questioned about how social distancing would be enforced during large events, particularly statewide staples that draw huge crowds to a small venue, DeWine said there was no enforcement apparatus set up and that the rules will rely on common sense from Ohioans in attendance.

DeWine also announced an initiative aimed at high school students over the age of 16, coordinated through local health departments and local school districts.

"We would like to get as many of them that want to be vaccinated vaccinated, and we'd like to do it before school is out this year," said DeWine. He said he requested that local health departments reach out to local school districts in their area to begin setting up appointments for teens seeking a shot.

Any district or health department facing a low supply of the Pfizer vaccine -- the only vaccine approved for people under the age of 18 -- should reach out to DeWine's office, he said.

Similarly, starting today, colleges and universities throughout Ohio have begun offering COVID-19 vaccines to students as part of the state's plan. Governor DeWine said last Thursday he hopes offering the shots to students will give them the opportunity to become vaccinated before traveling home for the summer.