COLUMBUS -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for retail establishments across the state, beginning Thursday, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The curfew will last for at least 21 days, the governor said, citing his desire for people to have fewer contacts with others, a move he said will reduce the chance of coronavirus spread.
"Retail establishments should be closed and people should be home (during the curfew hours)," the governor said. "We believe this is going to help. It's going to reduce the number of contacts taking place.
"Each one of us will make a difference. If we can cut down contacts by 20 to 25 percent, this will make a difference. Paired with mask-wearing, this will go a long way from stopping our hospitals from being overrun," the governor said.
DeWine said there are exceptions to the curfew, including those who need to go to or from work, seeking medical care, etc.
"The curfew does not apply to those who need to be at work, those who have an emergency, or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries, a carry-out/drive-thru meal, or delivery. A lot of this is common sense," DeWine said.
"No retail (will be open) that you can walk into," he said, adding he would not order bars, restaurants and fitness centers to close for now as he had previously discussed.
In response to a question, DeWine said he would not close grocery stores that stayed open after 10 p.m.
"We're not going to tell grocery stores or pharmacies that they have to close," he said.
There were 7,079 new COVID-19 cases reported across Ohio in the last 24 hours, according to the Ohio Dept. of Health website, down from the high of 8,071 reported Friday.
Six weeks ago, the state was about 1,000 new cases per day, DeWine said.
There were also 30 new deaths due to the virus since Monday, along with 368 new hospitalizations and 27 ICU admissions.
DeWine, who said state inspectors were in retail establishments enforcing masking orders for the first time on Monday, said the state saw less activity this spring when non-essential businesses were ordered closed.
He said he didn't want to do that "drastic" at this point, but that masks must be worn and the number of daily human interactions must be reduced.
The governor began his bi-weekly press conference by pointing out two positive announcements regarding the successful development and testing of two COVID-19 vaccines.
Two different pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced successful results from the latest human trials. It's possible the two-dose vaccines may be available on a limited basis by the end of the year with a larger rollout after Jan. 1.
DeWine said the worsening situation around the state means efforts to control the virus spread cannot wait until the vaccines are available.
"We have to build a bridge from here to where we get the immunity from the vaccine," DeWine said.