Ohio GOP Governor Explains Pulling Back on Face Mask Requirement in Stores: 'Offensive to Some of Our Fellow Ohioans'

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine described the reasoning behind his decision to pull back on a mandate he gave earlier this week requiring customers and employees to wear face masks as retail stores reopen across the state.

DeWine said that while he himself identifies with that conservative approach of having less government intervention, he reminded Ohioans that the coronavirus pandemic still presents a large-scale threat to public health. He defended his "about-face" on the retail face mask order, which he said "offended" some Ohio residents. A similar situation took place in Oklahoma City last week as the mayor withdrew an emergency declaration for face masks after store employees reported being threatened with physical and armed violence by opponents to the pandemic lockdown procedures.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tells @MarthaRaddatz his statewide order mandating face masks be worn in stores went "too far."

"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." https://t.co/KUQPYmxrRD pic.twitter.com/qBiBq4PYMm

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 3, 2020

"You did something that not too many politicians do: you did an about-face," said This Week host Martha Raddatz Sunday. "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."

"Face masks are very important and our business group came back and said every employee, for example, should wear a face mask," DeWine explained.

"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."

Last Tuesday, on the same day Ohio health officials reported 444 more coronavirus cases and 46 more COVID-19 deaths, DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch about the balancing act of trying to re-open businesses while also taking public health precautions seriously.

"In the last 24 hours, it is clear the mandatory mask requirement for people who are shopping, going into retail businesses, is offensive to some of our fellow Ohioans," the governor said of his dropping of the mask mandate last week. He went on to say some Ohio residents "felt it was a step too far" and "the governor should not be telling me what to do" -- although he did not clarify who exactly was offended by his retail mask mandate.

During his appearance on ABC News Sunday, DeWine was also asked about a poll that found Republicans are three times more likely than Democrats to attend a sporting event or otherwise break social distancing guidelines.

"Republicans are less inclined to have the government tell them what to do," the governor said. "And that's generally how I am. I'm a conservative Republican. I think we're better off not having the government tell us what to do. But we are in a health crisis."

ohio governor mike dewine coronavirus
Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine explained his reasoning behind pulling back on a statewide requirement for retail workers and employees to wear face masks as stores reopen. Screenshot: Twitter