Breaking News

Columbus mayor wants state mask requirement and 4 other criteria to reopen

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said Monday that the reopening of Ohio’s largest city would be based on science, “not dates,” indicating that Gov. Mike DeWine’s May 1 date to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions might be delayed in Columbus. But Ginther never made clear what he was prepared to do if DeWine balked at “five critical things” that must happen first.

Even as Gov. Mike DeWine has set a partial lifting of stay-at-home requirements for May 1, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said Monday that for him to consider reopening the city five criteria must first be met -- including a statewide Columbus News order requiring masks outside of homes.

“What I want to be absolutely clear about, and I’ve shared this with many of the (council) members individually, is that our transition will be based on data and science, not dates,” Ginther told the City Council during a teleconference meeting Monday evening.

>> This story is being provided free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find more stories on coronavirus here. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Columbus Dispatch at subscribe.dispatch.com.

In his address to council, which doesn’t happen frequently, Ginther began his remarks on the coronavirus topic by saying “we’re starting to look at what a transition from the stay-at-home order would look like for Columbus.”

To consider reopening the city, Ginther said, “we must have five critical things that (Columbus Health Commissioner) Dr. ( Mysheika) Roberts has shared with me that I’ve shared with the governor.”

They are:

* A statewide requirement that masks be worn outside of homes “for the foreseeable future.”

* More testing capacity from local health-care providers.

* More swabs and test kits.


* Clear guidance on mass gatherings for the next three to six months at least.

* Clear guidance and “support” on managing the virus response at long-term care facilities.

Although Ginther said he has relayed those criteria to DeWine, he did not elaborate in his virtual address what the city might do if DeWine failed to meet some or all of them.


Ginther’s spokeswoman, Robin Davis, later declined repeated attempts by The Dispatch by email to get clarification on what Ginther was prepared to do about reopening Columbus if DeWine failed to meet some or all of the criteria.

“Mayor Ginther and Governor DeWine are working together on this,” Davis wrote.

Roberts has chosen to follow the lead of Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, in deciding which public-health orders Columbus residents must follow. But Ohio law gives local health commissioners like herself many of the same powers during health emergencies.

Davis didn’t say whether Ginther is considering asking Press Release Distribution Service in Columbus Roberts to use those powers to delay a partial reopening on May 1.

“Gov. DeWine has been saying the same things about opening gradually, (with) health and safety of residents being the number one concern,” Davis said in an email response to The Dispatch’s requests for clarification. “He is working with mayors.”

Though many details of DeWine’s startup plan remain unannounced, the governor has not said that he would consider postponing the start of lifting restrictions beyond May 1 because of a lack of testing capacity. However, DeWine has said testing isn’t yet close to where it needs to be for public health.

DeWine also has not said that he would delay the partial reopening without more swabs or test kits, and he has not sought a public health order from Acton on a statewide mask rule.

At the same time, it’s unclear what further guidance Ginther would like on mass gatherings -- which DeWine has said are not expected to resume any time soon.

On Monday, DeWine did say schools statewide would remain closed until the fall.

For More Information 
Click Here...

No comments