Watch: Protesters Demand Ohio Gov. DeWine Lift ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
AP Photo/Paul Vernon

Around 100 protesters gathered outside Ohio’s Statehouse on Thursday afternoon to demonstrate against Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) stay-at-home order aimed at fighting the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

Armed with signs that read “Open Ohio” and “Fire DeWine,” the protesters could be heard as DeWine delivered his daily press briefing on his state’s response to the ongoing pandemic. The protesters, some of whom were wearing masks, also criticized Ohio’s Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton.

DeWine addressed the protest in his remarks, stating that the First Amendment protected speech under his stay-at-home order:

The people who are outside have every right to be out there and say what they want to say. We’re not going to keep these orders on one day longer than we have to. What I’m asking Ohioans to do is hang in there. All the evidence that we have indicates if we don’t hang in there, if we don’t continue to do what we’re doing it’s going to cost a lot of lives. It’s going to delay our ability to economically recover.

When it was her time to speak, Dr. Acton acknowledged the protesters’ concerns, pledging to be one of “the most aggressive states when it comes to recovery.”

“I don’t know if you can hear, there are people protesting right outside the statehouse, And people are worried, they’re afraid. They’re worried about their jobs. We are working very hard on how we are going to get through this beyond this,” said Acton, adding:

This is a hard mountain to climb, everyone. My husband and I tried to climb the highest mountain in the United States, Mount Whitney. Climbing mountains takes an incredible amount of teamwork… getting to each base camp safely.  We will not leave your side as we get through this arduous journey ahead… We will escort you equally as carefully. We aim to be one of the most aggressive states when it comes to recovery.

Last week, Ohio expanded its stay-at-home order until May 1.

The order included the following updates:

  • The requirement that essential businesses determine and enforce a maximum number of customers allowed in a store at one time.  These businesses must ensure that people waiting to enter the stores maintain safe social distancing.
  • Direction that travelers arriving to Ohio should self-quarantine for 14 days. Exceptions include persons who live and work in trans-border areas, heath care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Ohio if they are displaying symptoms, excepting in certain circumstances for medical care.
  • The mandate that wedding receptions be limited to no more than ten people.

As of Thursday, Ohio has confirmed 5,512 coronavirus cases and 213 deaths, according to data tracked via Johns Hopkins University.

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