Mike DeWine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.  (Richland Source file photo)

COLUMBUS -- Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday his administration has lifted its "stay-at-home" order and replaced it with a "stay-safe Ohio" directive.

His comments came despite the phrase "stay at home" appears specifically in the order issued Thursday night by Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton as the state struggles against the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our new order goes into effect today," DeWine said. "Look at the order itself, not just the title. It's not a stay-at-home order. We have reached a new stage. But it doesn't mean the virus has gone away."

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DeWine reviewed the dates that specific groups of businesses can re-open, while meeting "best practices" safety criteria previously spelled out during earlier press conferences.

His remarks came even as some leaders in the state legislature and others called for faster movement to restart an economy that has seen more than 1 million initial unemployment claims in the last several weeks. It also came the same day the state's death toll from the coronavirus topped 1,000.

"I know this is hard. I get it. But we have to stick together. We have a path. Let's keep going. Let's keep each other safe. Let's get our businesses open. I appreciate what everyone has done. You've made sacrifices and continue to make them," DeWine said.

The governor said state lawmakers know he is a good listener and they all have his email address and cellphone number.

"Nobody knows a district better than the legislator from that district. I have great respect for all members of the House, all members of the Senate. We're trying to do something that has not been done in 100 years in Ohio (since the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918).

"Their criticism is to be fully expected. I understand that. I call it the best I can and I am going to continue to do so, in consultation with the General Assembly. Lives are at stake. Jobs are at stake," DeWine said.

The governor said retail outlets can now open by appointment with customers and also if their business lends itself to curbside services.

DeWine also said working groups are underway to provide "best practices" to re-open other business segments, including restaurants, hair salons, childcare centers, libraries, travel/tourism, outdoor recreation, adult/youth sports, gyms, theaters and performing arts, and adult daycare.

He indicated some of these businesses could re-open later in May if COVID-19 numbers do not spike as the state's economy restarts.

He said those groups include representatives of business leaders from each of those industries to help draft those best practices.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"