DeWine announced the order on April 27 but reversed it the next day before it went into effect.
“It became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far, that people were not going to accept the government telling them what to do,” DeWine said May 3 during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
“And so we put out dozens and dozens of orders, that was one that it just went too far.”
While customers aren’t required to wear masks in the updated guidance, they are encouraged to do so.
“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,” DeWine said.
Wearing masks helps protect grocery store workers and others who interact frequently with the general public, according to health experts.
Ohio’s mask recommendations center around the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The virus is believed to primarily spread between people within six feet of each other through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal officials began recommending in April that people wear masks in places such as grocery stores where maintaining six feet between themselves and others is difficult. They cited a growing body of evidence pointing to some transmission of the virus coming from people who are infected but don’t show symptoms.
DeWine said at an April 28 press conference that he reversed his order after hearing from “a lot of different people,” including a mother who has an autistic son and said it would be a problem for him.
Those people “felt that I may wear a mask, or I may not wear a mask, but the government should not be telling me what to do,” DeWine told reporters. “We’re going to leave it up to the individual customer.”
Businesses can bar customers from entering if a customer arrives without a mask, state officials said.
After an ABC host noted on May 3 a poll that showed that Republican respondents were more likely to go out to restaurants and other establishments as the country begins to reopen, DeWine said that GOP members are, in general, less inclined to have the government tell them what to do.
“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,” he said.
Ohio had 19,094 confirmed CCP virus cases as of May 3. The state doesn’t release figures on how many patients have recovered.
Most people who become infected recover without hospital care. The virus primarily causes severe illness in the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as obesity, cancer, and kidney disease.
Nearly 3,800 people have been hospitalized in Ohio, including 1,078 intensive care unit admissions.
State officials have recorded 957 deaths from COVID-19, as well as 81 probable deaths.