COLUMBUS -- Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced county and independent fairs scheduled for the remainder of 2020 will be limited to only junior fair activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the same daily press briefing, the governor also announced daycare centers around the state could return to normal ratios and class sizes on Aug. 9 as schools prepare to reopen around the state.
"I've made the difficult decision to limit all fairs to junior fair events only (livestock competitions, 4-H, etc.) for fairs that begin after July 31," DeWine said.
He said harness racing at fairs will be allowed with no spectators, but rides, games, grandstand events, etc. will be prohibited under a state order that would soon be issued.
His decision would impact upcoming fairs in Richland County (Aug. 9 to 15) and Ashland County (Sept. 20 to 26) and the Bellville Street Fair (Sept. 16 to 19).
Ashland County Fair Board Manager Steve Englet said DeWine's announcement was disappointing.
"It’s kind of early. I just found out, but it sounds like we’ll have to go to only the junior fair," Englet said.
“We’ve been taking a phased approach, but we were in the process of ordering supplies and finalizing contracts with vendors," he said, adding he was outside building hand sanitizer stations when the announcement was made.
“We had really embraced the whole COVID protocol and hoped to go above and beyond. We wanted to make sure we complied and then some," Englet said.
He said the fair board will likely meeting this week to discuss pivoting to only junior fair activities.
Officials with the Richland County Fair and the "World's Fair" in Bellville have previously announced they would limit their events to largely junior fair activities.
Final decisions will have to be made, based on DeWine's new order.
The governor said some county and independent fairs had attempted to follow the rules, including masks, social distancing and limiting crowds. Others had not done so, he said, resulting in several outbreaks related to fair events.
With regards to daycare centers, DeWine said the child care operations will still have to follow strict guidelines.
"Even with increased classroom sizes, child care providers will still have to comply with stringent health and safety requirements including face coverings for all staff, symptom and temperature checks, hand washing, frequent cleaning, etc.," the governor said.
During questioning from media, DeWine said local school districts are still being allowed to make their own decisions about reopening. Columbus City Schools announced Tuesday it would be online-only for the first nine weeks.
"These are tough decisions," he said. "If we do what we need to do, we can start growing these numbers in the right direction. We have a long, long history of school districts making their own decisions.
"We have given them significant guidance and we may add to that Thursday. If I see kids in danger in this state ... we will take action," he said.
DeWine said he would likely have more to say Thursday about high school sports this fall, bars/restaurants and school reopenings.
"We have schools, superintendents and parents trying to figure out what this world will look like (in a few weeks). No one can tell them. I can't tell them," he said.
DeWine was also asked about an announcement Tuesday by The Ohio State University that it would limit attendance at home football games to just 20 percent capacity.
In response, he said it's good for OSU to make plans, but it was too early to make final decisions.