DeWine lifts curfew as COVID-19 numbers fall

By J.D. Davidson - The Center Square

COLUMBUS — Ohioans no longer have to live under a curfew, but things are far from back to normal and stronger restrictions could return at any time.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s statewide curfew put in place in November was lifted late Thursday as COVID-19 indicators continued to fall. He warned, though, the curfew could come back if numbers spike.

“We may in the future, we don’t know, have to put a curfew back on,” DeWine said.

“It’s very important to continue to do what we’ve been doing. Let’s get the vaccine into our arms as quick as we can, but at the same time, we have to continue to wear a mask and continue to keep the distancing.”

DeWine imposed the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew Nov. 19. It originally was supported by the Ohio Restaurant Association. In July, he ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. That order expired in November but 10 p.m. service stoppage continued under the curfew.

With last call now at either 1 a.m. or 2:30 a.m., bars and restaurants around the state used social media late Thursday night to begin announcing longer hours, special events and other options to attract customers.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Thursday fans can return for NHL games in Columbus at a 10 percent capacity level at Nationwide Arena.

Ohio’s nursing home COVID-19 cases fell by more than 77 percent since November, and DeWine pointed to the state’s vaccine effort for residents and staff as the key. During the week of Nov. 29, 2,697 COVID-19 cases were in long-term care facilities. During the week of Jan. 17, there were 612.

The state’s hospitalization numbers Thursday totaled 1,862, the 10th consecutive day with hospitalizations below 2,500. One of DeWine’s indicators for lifting the curfew was seven straight days below 2,500.

“We all can control this to some extent,” DeWine said.

DeWine also ordered restaurants, bars, banquet and catering facilities and buffets can reopen with exceptions and guidelines.

Masks are required by everyone using a buffet, which must be at least 6 feet from customers and have one direction service lines. The areas must be cleaned regularly and monitored by staff.

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square