COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine was pretty adamant Tuesday about not allowing a variance for the playoff football games involving two state teams.
DeWine was asked about allowing bars and restaurants to stay open past the 10 p.m. statewide curfew this Sunday for the Cleveland Browns Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Monday’s Ohio State University vs. Alabama College Football Playoff championship.
The governor said the state’s COVID-19 case numbers were enough of an explanation as to why the 10 p.m. curfew will remain in effect.
“Look, there’s nothing more that I would like to do than just say, ‘Look, no restrictions, no restrictions on bars, everybody go back to normal,’ but we’re not back to normal,” DeWine said.
By definition, the governor added, customers can’t wear a mask when they are drinking and eating, and allowing an extended period of time when people can be gathered together without wearing masks isn’t going to help fight the spread of the virus.
“I understand we have people hurting and I understand that we have a great desire for people to go to a bar and root on the Buckeyes and root on the Browns, but that would simply add to the spread we already have,” DeWine said.
The governor said the 10 p.m. closing time was part of a compromise reached between the state and the bars and restaurants.
“What we tried to do was balance peoples’ need to make a living with public safety,” he added.
Pointing at Tuesday’s reported 7,580 new cases and 104 new deaths, DeWine said, “This is why we can do it.”
“We’re starting to see our numbers in our hospitals go back up,” he added. “I’d love to do it. We can’t do it.”
The state first instituted the 10 p.m. curfew on Nov. 19 and was originally scheduled to last three weeks. The curfew has since been extended twice, and is now scheduled to expire on Jan. 23.
As part of the curfew, retail businesses, with the exception of restaurants offering take-out or drive-thru meals, as well as other exceptions.