By JACK ARNHOLZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Sunday that a statewide order mandating face masks be worn in stores went “too far.”
“It became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
Appearing from Cedarville, Ohio, Dewine told Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz, “that was just one (order) that went too far.”
While DeWine was one of the first governors to implement statewide closures amid the novel coronavirus outbreak — closing schools on March 12 and postponing state primaries on March 17 — he rescinded a statewide order on Tuesday requiring face masks be worn in stores, writing on Twitter that it became clear to him some Ohioans found it “offensive.”
While Americans across the partisan divide agree that state coronavirus restrictions on businesses are appropriate, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows Democrats are more concerned about contracting the virus while Republican respondents would be more likely to get out if and when the rules change.
“I think generally Republicans are less inclined to have the government tell them what to do. And that’s generally how I am. I’m a conservative Republican. I think we’re better off not having the government tell us what to do,” DeWine said.
As states across the country have started to relax stay-at-home orders, governors have had to balance public health with economic considerations.
Ohio’s Department of Health reported 19,000 cases of COVID-19 with over 1,000 related deaths in the state and the Department of Jobs and Family Services has announced that over one million residents have lost their jobs since the beginning of the crisis.
“I told Ohioans Friday, I said we can do two things at once,” DeWine told Raddatz.
He announced a phased approach to reopening Ohio last week. The state will allow manufacturing and construction businesses to resume work Monday. On May 12, consumer and retail stores will also be allowed to reopen.
Despite cancelling the face mask order, DeWine still urged his constituents to wear coverings.
“Face masks are very important and our business group came back and said every employee, for example, should wear a face mask. So we’re continuing that, whether it’s retail or wholesale, whatever it is, manufacturing, every employee’s going to have the face mask,” he said Sunday.
When pressed by Raddatz whether he would revert to stricter social distancing orders if the outbreak worsened again in his state he said, “we’ll have to take action.”
“We got to bring the economy back, but we also have to continue to protect people,” he said.
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