OH Gov. DeWine: Mandatory Mask Order Was ‘a Bridge Too Far’

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) said he reversed his order making wearing masks in public mandatory during the coronavirus pandemic because it “was a bridge too far.”

Partial transcript as follows:

GOV. MIKE DEWINE: So it is a balancing thing. We got to bring the economy back but we also have to continue to protect people. And one of the things I emphasize with Ohioans is it’s not so much my orders or the health director’s orders, it is what we all do in our individual lives and how careful we are. And we can continue to do that and —

RADDATZ: Governor, let’s talk about that. You did something that not too many politicians do, you did an about-face. You first announced that everyone would be required to wear face masks when retail opened, and then you reversed yourself when some of your citizens said it was offensive. Talk me through the thinking on that because you were just talking about face masks.

GOV. DEWINE: Face masks are very important and our business group came back and said every employee, for example, should wear a face mask. So we’re continuing that, whether it’s retail or wholesale, whatever it is, manufacturing, every employee’s going to have the face mask. But it became very clear to me after we put out the order that everyone in retail who walked into a store as a customer would have to do that, it became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far. People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do. And so we put out dozens and dozens of orders, that was one that it just went too far. But at the same time we pulled that back, I said look this is — I highly recommend it.

This is, for most people, it’s — unless you have a physical reason you can’t wear the mask, and we understand that, but when you go into a retail store, that is the kind thing to do because I worry and we should all worry about the folks who are stocking shelves in grocery stores, the people who are — the check-out line who work there all day, and we got to try to protect them. So, again, it’s what individual Ohioans do. They’ve been great going through this. We flattened the curve. People have stayed home. They’ve kept their social distance. And we just got to continue to do that.

So my ability to communicate to the people of Ohio, frankly, I thought was going to be really impeded and we would get hung up on the mandatory masks for someone going in as a customer and it just wasn’t going to work. And so you got to know what you can do and what you can’t do.

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