Reactions mixed to announcement of relaxed COVID mandates

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Signs along the walkway leading to the Macedonia Family Recreation Center's front doors provide safety guidelines.

While Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will drop most of the mandates put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some entities are electing to keep some protections in place.

DeWine announced May 12 that he has asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most pandemic health orders on June 2.

“It is time to end the health orders," DeWine said. "It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus, and now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

Measures being removed will include facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.

The governor said that there would be exceptions to the lifting of masking and social distancing mandates in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings such as jails.

In addition, the Center for Disease Control announced May 13 that those who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can participate in activities without masks and social distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask, socially distance, avoid large gatherings, and whenever possible, be outside for activities and gatherings. 

Jason Chadock, director for Macedonia's parks and recreation department, said that for "the immediate future, our cleaning and sanitation practices will not change." The department was still discussing issues such as class sizes, room rentals, open swim and mask policies. More information, he said, is expected in the near future.

John Zaccardelli, the chair of the Sagamore Hills township trustees, said that the trustees have met in-person since May 2020, and the township's hall has remained open through the pandemic.

"We have and will continue to follow all guidelines and recommendations per the Ohio Department of Health and the Summit County Public Health Department," Zaccardelli said. "As of June 2, masks are optional. To be honest, these new guidelines will be a breath of fresh air."

Bradric Bryan, the law director for Northfield Village, said village officials "expect to modify protocols as of June 2, but have not yet determined the details."

Helen Humphrys, the township administrator for Northfield Center, said the trustees may meet next week in a special meeting to discuss any changes; as of May 19, no date has been set.

Macedonia Mayor Nick Molnar said that meetings at the city have been virtual "for some time," but the state provision to allow city officials to meet and vote remotely "is currently set to expire on July 1."

"We are currently waiting for the governor's office to give us any changes in writing," Molnar said. "As of this morning, we have nothing. Moral of the story is, we are waiting for substance. We can't rely on verbal communication without legal details so we can move forward."

The relaxing of the state mandates will have little impact on the rest of the school year for students in the Nordonia Hills City Schools, said Superintendent Joe Clark. The final day for students is May 28.

"The governor's mask orders remain in effect until June 2, or the end of the school year, whichever comes later," Clark said.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com