Mask in the crowd

After the mask mandate took effect last week, some locals wore masks in heavy congregated areas of the Perry County Fair with most not wearing any facial coverings.


NEW LEXINGTON — In the midst of the Perry County Fair, more orders came down from the Statehouse regarding mandating facial coverings in all counties throughout the state. Fair Board President Ron Baker spoke with the Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week regarding the health orders.

Gov. DeWine spoke to citizens of Ohio last Wednesday announcing the statewide mask mandate that went into effect for all 88 counties Thursday evening. The announcement was made during the scheduled events at the Perry County Fairgrounds of which the fair board president had some questions regarding regulations.

“I was on a call with the governor Wednesday morning along with several fair board members around the state,” Baker told The Perry County Tribune.

Baker questioned the governor if he and the board had to change signage reminding locals to social distance and wear masks when possible to accommodate with the new health orders. Baker stated that the governor responded with “no” to his question.

“So we are going to proceed,” Baker stated. “We ask all of our visitors to please comply with the governor’s orders and proceed with a, hopefully, successful and safe fair.”

Animal showcase events were operational during fair week at the Coliseum with most viewers inside not wearing facial coverings prior to the mandate.

“This is our fourth day,” Baker said. “We found to this point that usually the groups that are sitting together are family.”

Baker added that the board requested that if families show up to the fair that they must stick together when watching showcase events in person.

“In our situation, we have a lot of large farm families and rural families and they’ve been together for months trying to get these projects together and working together,” Baker explained. “In no way would I shun anybody if they want to wear a mask… more power to them.”

Baker went on to explain that he and the fair board have been encouraging locals to follow their guidelines. On Thursday morning, Baker stated that he had not received any complaints pertaining to the policies that the board has implemented.

“That’s basically all we can do is ask,” Baker commented. “We are not an enforcement agency… people seem to be complying.”

Baker said that he welcomes the opportunity to meet with the Perry County Health Department regarding updates on how the events went.

“After we are done I am sure we’ll sit down as a fair board first and evaluate it and get our thoughts together as to how things went and I am sure our health department would like to do the same thing… I have no problems with that,” Baker said.

Gov. DeWine said based on preliminary data, the rate of COVID-19 cases have been increasing in high risk counties where masks are already mandated.

“We believe that requiring masks statewide will make a significant difference and will be key to making sure other counties do not progress to higher level[s] of increased spread,” Gov DeWine said.

Additionally the state has outlined when and where individuals would be wearing facial coverings. If locals are in an indoor location, not in their homes, they are encouraged to wear masks. Scenarios also include outdoor areas only if a minimum of six-feet is not capable of members outside of their household and waiting for, riding, driving or operating public transportation including taxis, a car service or a private vehicle used for ride sharing.

The order only is a requirement for those that are 10 years or older. Additional exclusions include those with a medical condition, disability or communicating with someone with a disability, those actively exercising or playing sports, those who are officiants at religious services, those who are actively involved in public safety and those who are actively eating or drinking.

The governor also made an additional announcement last week regarding a travel advisory for all individuals coming into the state from others reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher.

Those traveling from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas are asked to self-quarantine for a 14-day period at home or at a hotel. The recommendation applies to those who live in Ohio, and people who are coming into the state.

In addition to the order and advisory, DeWine touched on a 19-case outbreak that was linked to a county fair in the state.

“We’ve seen photos of packed grandstands and little social distancing,” Gov. DeWine said. “We want fairs to continue, but I expressed in the phone call [last week] that fairs must follow the rules.”

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