Ohio's DeWine reverses coronavirus mask mandate for retail customers as he lays out gradual reopening

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Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine reversed course Tuesday and said he will no longer be mandating that customers wear masks to retail stores, in an effort to dial back a restriction that some found "offensive."

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“It is safer for everyone if both people wear a mask but we also know that this was offensive and people looked at this and said, ‘this is one government mandate too far and it’s too much,'" DeWine said at a press conference.

The governor announced plans to rollback stay-at-home orders and lift a number of statewide restrictions to allow some businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Just a day before, DeWine announced that retail stores and consumer services will be allowed to reopen May 12, but both employees and customers would have to wear a mask in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DeWine said the state's business task force recommended everyone wear a mask in an effort to create a safer environment for all.

Now the defunct mandate has become a practice "strongly recommended" by the state government, Ohio officials said.

"And though it is not a mandate, it is clearly in the best interest for Ohioans to wear a mask in retail settings. This gives added protection to others. When you wear a mask, you are protecting those around you from possibly getting sick," DeWine said.

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He added that although the state no longer requires it, individual businesses can decide if they would like patrons to cover their faces.

"The recommendation that masks be worn came from business owners to protect employees. They can make a decision that those coming in the door need to wear a protective covering," the governor said.

DeWine says he plans to lead by example.

“When I go out in public and go into a business, I will wear a mask. And I have recommended to my family members that they wear masks,” he said.