While governments might not impose mask mandates, local businesses are starting requirements

Coronavirus

(WKBN) – Coming soon to a business near you: requirements for employees and even customers to wear masks might be returning.

As we see more and more cases of COVID around the Valley, businesses and even some government offices are once again requiring masks.

Just in the last 24 hours, McDonald’s restaurants are now asking customers to have face coverings. Giant Eagle markets are requiring workers to mask-up and strongly encourage their customers to do the same.

But don’t expect to see any area-wide mask mandates here in Ohio.

“Senate Bill 22 restricts, to basically explain it, it restricts the governor and the Ohio Department of Health from creating those public health orders without having them reviewed. He can create guidelines and come up with guidelines, which they have,” said Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County Health Commissioner.

It didn’t take long — less than a week — and most of our area is now labeled as having “substantial” spread of COVID by the CDC, up from a “moderate” level late last week.

“We have experienced an increase here in Mahoning Count. Average per day cases went from 14 to 20, so it’s a 42% change,” Tekac said.

“We absolutely are seeing significantly higher numbers now than we were several weeks ago,” said Dr. James Kravec of Mercy Health.

Even Mahoning County’s Juvenile Justice Center is ordering employees and visitors to either show proof of vaccination or wear a mask

Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown says another city-wide mandate for masking up like last summer is not all that likely this year, but he admits his staff is considering imposing a mandate for those who work or visit Youngstown City Hall.

Health officials say state lawmakers stepped in earlier this year to prohibit widespread mandates or lockdowns, while experts believe we could see even more businesses instituting their own restrictions, especially if case numbers continue to climb.

“Masks are effective. They do reduce spread, but we have the end game now, which is called the vaccine,” Kravec said.

But right now, local vaccination rates remain below 50%.

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