DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The state has cautioned that the end of our health orders doesn’t mean the pandemic is over, but a popular Dayton pub marked the day in a rather dramatic way.  At the Dublin Pub, owners and patrons celebrated the end of restrictions in our state by burning their masks.

They said having 15 months of restrictions was a very dark time for the restaurant industry.

“Today represents such a huge weight off of collective shoulders here at the Dublin Pub,” said General Manager Anthony Good.

Mask after mask was tossed into a bonfire, marking the end of 15 months of health restrictions. They said it’s a symbolic celebration that represents a tough year in the restaurant industry after major holidays were cancelled or limited, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This has nothing to do with politics whatsoever,” said Good. “This is us celebrating being out from under that umbrella of taking on that task that was pretty much forced upon us.”

Residents who threw their masks away say they’ve been frustrated with the restrictions and wanted to support local small businesses..

“This is just a release of freedom, release of stress or whatever you want to call it but I wanted to be here with my friends and just let go,” said Bill Epperson, a resident of Dayton.

Even with the health orders lifted, the state’s health leaders still encourage precautions.

“The caution you’ve heard all of us express about relaxing our guard too much about COVID-19 and its continuing threat needs to be heeded as well,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health.

Health leaders acknowledge the obstacles the state has gone through reaching this point, but over half of Ohio is still unvaccinated which poses concerns.

The progress we’ve made with vaccination makes it appropriate to shift the responsibility from government mandates to the hands of the people of Ohio,” said Vanderhoff.

Masks are optional at the Dublin Pub but across the state, businesses do still have the option to enforce their own mask mandate.