Ohio's new rules on mass gatherings effective Tuesday after noon

WCPO mike dewine ap.jpeg
Posted at 10:18 AM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 14:10:24-05

Ohio's new restrictions on mass gatherings go into effect Tuesday afternoon, according to a press release from Governor Mike DeWine.

The release states that Ohio Department of Health interim director Lance Himes has signed a revised health order, modifying the previous one signed in April. These rules take effect at 12:01 p.m. Monday afternoon.

The original health order from April, which never officially expired, limited mass gatherings in the state to 10 people. This is still in effect, the press release states.

The new restrictions apply predominantly to mass gatherings, such as wedding receptions, funerals and other events held at banquet-style facilities:

  • No socializing or activities in open congregate areas and no dancing.
  • Guests must be seated at all times. Traditional wedding reception events, such as first dance, toasts, tossing the bouquet and cutting the cake, are permitted.
  • If serving food and beverages, guests must be served at their seats. No self-serve buffets and no self-serve bar areas permitted.
  • Masks must be worn at all times unless actively consuming food or beverages.
  • No more than 10 people should be seated at a table and those individuals must be from the same household.

The order doesn't apply to religious observances, the release states, nor does it apply to governmental meetings, media activity or First Amendment protected speech.

“Despite the health order that limited mass gatherings to 10 people that was signed in April remaining in effect, we have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” said DeWine in the press release. “We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”

The ruling comes after DeWine issued several warnings to Ohioans in previous weeks amid record-breaking spikes in both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. He announced Wednesday the new restrictions on mass gatherings would be coming, in addition to new mask mandate rules and guidance for bars and restaurants.