COLUMBUS — First issued three weeks ago, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus will last at least until Jan. 2.
“The next 21 days is vitally important for all of us to do everything we can to slow this virus down,” DeWine said at his Thursday news conference, when he reported nearly 12,000 new cases and 111 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The initial curfew expired Thursday but the three-week period was not enough to make a large enough difference in positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to DeWine. However, he also said the curfew, along with stronger mask enforcement, is making a difference.
“We did this because we needed to relieve pressure on our hospitals. We took this approach for Ohioans to reduce their unnecessary contacts with others outside their households,” DeWine said. “We believe the curfew, along with enforcement, have had an impact.”
The new order comes as four major events are planned in the state in the next 10 days.
First, on Saturday, the Columbus Crew will play host to the Major League Soccer championship game at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus. Second, the Cleveland Browns will welcome the Baltimore Ravens for Monday night football. Third, the University of Cincinnati plays Tulsa at Nippert Stadium in Cinncinati on Dec. 19. Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football on Dec. 21.
Each of those events will end after the 10 p.m. curfew, and DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health issued a variance for the games. However, he worries more about what happens surrounding major sporting events, rather than spectators at the games.
“To be really honest, and frank, the biggest threat from these games is not what goes on inside the stadiums,” DeWine said. “The biggest threat is from those who have an urge to gather with friends and with people outside their own households. That’s our biggest worry.
“I know the importance of sports. It is important to continue to be able to do things. Sport events are important to many, especially in a sports-loving state like Ohio.”
In mid-November, DeWine placed Ohioans under a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for 21 days, ending all non-essential trips.
The curfew does not apply to people going to or from work, getting groceries or a carryout meal, going to the hospital or in an emergency situation. Drive-thru and delivery retail business can continue after 10 p.m. Grocery stores and pharmacies are not forced to close.
“Three things kinda came together. One is a realization of the seriousness of this virus. Two is the curfew, and three is the masking is fundamentally better than it was three weeks ago and that’s because we actually sent agents out to enforce it,” DeWine said. “I happen to think all three of them had an impact. What it’s enabled us to do is blunting a little bit of the rise. Certainly, we have a ways to go.”