COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Protesters were back outside the Ohio Statehouse on Monday, urging Gov. Mike DeWine to reopen the state’s economy.
Several donned camouflage and openly carried firearms. Signs read, “Open Ohio now,” “Fire DeWine,” and “All jobs are essential.”
DeWine said people have every right to protest, but asked they be safe and stay away from each other. First Amendment-protected speech is permitted under the governor’s stay-at-home order.
“It’s freedom and safety. These are not mutually exclusive. The worst thing we could do is to completely take off all restraints and go back at it. We know what would happen. We know from history what will happen. We know from every expert we can talk to. We would be back in a horrible, horrible mess,” DeWine said. “Those same protesters will have family members or themselves who might end up in the hospital and we would not have the care they needed.”
Some of the demonstrators expressed concern for small businesses. DeWine said he is working with experts and business owners to determine what can reopen and how it will happen.
“There’s no question small businesses are being hit exceedingly hard…I feel for everybody who is going through that,” the governor said.
He said he was told by small business owners not to open things if they would have to close again in a few weeks.
DeWine’s daily coronavirus news briefing was moved from the statehouse to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.