Coronavirus: Legality of mask mandates

Five on 2

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio is now under a statewide mask mandate in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Dr. Mark Caleb Smith, director of political studies at Cedarville University, joined 2 NEWS Monday to talk about the legal implications of these orders.

“The piece of legislation that we’re talking about really delegates power to the director of Public Health and, of course, through the governor to make these kinds of decisions to halt the spread of contagious diseases,” he said, adding that Governor DeWine appears to be on solid ground legally.

Dr. Smith describes the enforcement of this mandate as “awkward” considering police departments are asking that complaints be directed to local health departments, who do not typically enforce laws.

“This kind of tension, I think, is going to make it harder for the governor to get to the kind of buy-in that he would like in this order,” he said.

As far as those arguing that mandatory masks take away a citizen’s rights, Dr. Smith says, “Constitutionally, they really don’t have much of a point.”

“In some ways, this isn’t all that different from the government telling you to wear shoes or a shirt into a business environment,” he said. “I understand the reaction to it, but I think constitutionally, Governor DeWine’s on pretty good ground.”

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