OHIO — The state’s major cities and counties are lifting local mask ordinances as Ohio prepares for a full reopening, ending most of the COVID-19 health orders on June 2.
Many localities in Ohio had their own mask mandates on the books when the state effectively lifted the mask mandate on May 17 following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These orders are being reversed, and by June 2, most of the mask mandates in Ohio will have ended. Some residents though will have to wait a little while longer.
The city’s mask mandate could be one of the last in Ohio to end.
Masks remain mandated in Columbus until City Council votes on a repeal.
Mayor Andrew Ginther asked Columbus City Council to repeal the city’s local mask order, which he enacted by executive order in July.
City Council is expected to consider an ordinance to amend the mask mandate at its June 7 meeting, a Columbus Public Health spokesperson said.
In Columbus, many businesses have ceased requiring masks for staff and customers. Other establishments are continuing to require that customers wear masks, citing the local mask ordinance.
Asked if the mask mandate was still being enforced, Columbus Public Health said it’s focused on messaging and its partnerships to combat the ongoing health crisis.
“Columbus Public Health continues to work with local restaurants and businesses to protect health and slow the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and urging those who have not been vaccinated to wear facial coverings,” spokesperson Myles Bell said.
Local health officials caution that there is still significant risk for unvaccinated residents with the county still in the Red Alert Level 3. Depending on risk-level, even some residents who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks when they are in dense areas, Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said.
City Council spokesperson Lee Cole said members are still working through the details of next steps for the mask mandate.
Cleveland’s mask mandate could end next week.
Mayor Frank Jackson instituted a local mask ordinance in July via a civil emergency proclamation, and he extended it multiple times as the pandemic wore on.
On April 29, the proclamation was extended again until May 31. Jackson announced Thursday the civil emergency won't be extended again, saying city employees will need to start reporting to work on site on June 14. City Hall will open to the public July 6.
Mayor John Cranley moved quickly to end Cincinnati’s mask mandate, announcing on May 14 that he would relax health orders to allow fully vaccinated people to take off the masks.
The Cranley administration ended local emergency orders that were issued in response to the pandemic last week, according to Cincinnati City Council records. The move included the end of the mask ordinance, which had been in effect since late June 2020.
Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz announced May 19 that Toledo was lifting its mask mandate.
Until June 2, unvaccinated residents must wear masks, according to a May 26 update. The mask requirement will be lifted entirely on June 2, the date when all health orders in Ohio will be lifted.
After that date, masks will not be required for anyone, other than in a few dense settings, Toledo officials said.
“Mask wearing will become voluntary for every Ohioan (vaccinated and non-vaccinated, unless you are in specifically designated areas like airplanes, buses, health care settings, or in businesses or municipalities which require mask wearing,” officials said.
Akron City Council voted to lift the city’s mask mandate on May 17, but the council said it’s not discouraging businesses from implementing their own policies. The council passed the original mask mandate almost a year ago.
“We implore all Akron residents to continue to respect the rules that our local businesses establish and to make responsible decisions based on their own vaccination status,” Ellen Lander Nischt, Akron press secretary and senior strategic counsel, said in a press release.
At a May 19 meeting, Dayton city commissioners repealed the county’s mask ordinance, effective immediately.
The health department for Dayton and Montgomery County said it ended mask requirements to follow the state’s current position on masks.
The city said it was also bringing its orders into alignment with the May 13 CDC guidance.
The Franklin County Board of Health rescinded the county’s mask mandate on Monday.
However, officials said that masks should still be worn in many situations even though the county is no longer requiring them.
“Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) advises businesses, schools, and organizations to request all employees, visitors and customers continue to wear masks inside their facilities to the greatest extent possible,” the health department said in a statement.
While officials believe the pandemic is more controlled today than when the county’s mask order, which was adopted July 14, 2020, Franklin also remains in Red Alert Level 3.
Due to the high incidence of COVID-19, county officials recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks in crowds.
“The bottom line is for those unvaccinated, get vaccinated as soon as possible and continue following public health recommendations. For those vaccinated, consider your personal situation and the risk to family, friends, and community with regards to masking,” officials said. “However, with high incidence of COVID-19 still in Franklin County, fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask as appropriate in crowds.”
Masks are not required in Cuyahoga County as the county never had a local mask ordinance.
County Executive Armond Budish proposed a mask ordinance in July 2020 that needed approval by the Cuyahoga County Council.
The council indefinitely tabled the legislation in mid-July after DeWine announced he was imposing a mask mandate on Cuyahoga and a number of other counties that had high rates of spread.
County officials could not be reached for comment in response to the end of the statewide mask mandate.