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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health will issue an order requiring masks in public places in seven counties.

It goes into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the counties in the red level of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System: Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull. It will remain in effect as long as these counties are in the red level or if they increase to the purple level.

People must wear masks when:

  • They are in any indoor location that is not a residence.
  • They are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.
  • They are waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private care service, or a ride-sharing vehicle.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering, according to the governor. K-12 schools will follow the guidance for masks issued last week.

Not wearing a mask is a misdemeanor offense.

“We are not looking to see a lot of people arrested. That isn’t the idea at all,” DeWine said.

The governor was asked if he expects any pushback on the mask mandate and if he has the legal authority to make this requirement.

“Our lawyers tell us we do have the authority to do this,” DeWine said. “This is a public health crisis. Historically, governors in Ohio and other states have been able to take action that needed to be taken on an emergency.”

A growing list of Ohio cities already mandated masks in public, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. On Monday, Beachwood City Council passed an ordinance requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.

In April, when DeWine first announced plans to reopen stores, he said face coverings would be mandatory for employees and customers.

“No masks, no work, no service, no exception,” the governor said on April 27.

The following day, he reversed the requirement for customers because some Ohioans felt it was “offensive.”

“It was just too far. There were a significant amount of Ohioans who were offended about it and felt it was government overreach,” DeWine said at the time.

On multiple occasions, the governor has said wearing masks or face coverings is not a political issue. He said it’s an issue of protecting each other from the virus.

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