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RECAP | Gov. Mike DeWine announces loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, more doses of vaccine coming to Ohio

Sporting and entertainment events will be able to reopen with 25 percent maximum indoor capacity and 30 percent maximum outdoor capacity.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine returned to his regularly scheduled Thursday press briefing after taking two full days off in order to receive the second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran receive second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Here were some of the top stories during Gov. DeWine's Thursday news conference:

Easing of COVID-19 restrictions for spring events

DeWine announced that Ohio's sporting and entertainment events will be able to reopen with 25 percent maximum indoor capacity and 30 percent maximum outdoor capacity provided they follow established precautions such as mandatory mask wearing for employees and customers, spectator pathways that allow for social distancing, and seating in groups in six-foot intervals of no more than six people from the same household.

General admission (lawns, standing room, infields) will be permitted if masks are worn and if six-foot distancing can be marked and maintained. 

The governor added that guidance for proms, banquets, wedding receptions, fairs, festivals, and parades is forthcoming. 

COVID-19 optimism

DeWine said he felt confident to loosen the restrictions based on several key indicators of optimism as the state continues to battle COVID-19.

First, Ohio will receive 310,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in the next week. With this increase in doses, Ohio will add additional new vaccine provider sites including some Meijer and Walmart locations and more independent pharmacies. Providers that are currently receiving vaccines - including RiteAid, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, local health departments, and hospitals - can anticipate larger shipments. 

Once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available, Ohio will receive an additional 91,000 doses during the first week.

DeWine also cited downward COVID-19 hospitalization trends as a reason for optimism, particularly in the 80+ age group which was among the first groups to become eligible for the vaccine. In December, those 80+ made up more than 25 percent of Ohio's COVID hospitalizations. This month, that number has dropped to about 18 percent.

The state is also seeing a decline in COVID cases among nursing home residents. In the past week, Ohio had 369 new nursing home cases, compared to 2,832 new cases in one week in December. 

Behavoral health visitation; veterans home update

Beginning March 1, Ohio will lift several restrictions on visitors to behavioral health hospitals.

The decision, Gov. DeWine says, is in-line with other recent developments with visitor policies around the state. 

DeWine urged also Ohioans who have a family member or friend in a hospital or long-term facility to check for updated regulations, as many facilities around the state have begun to pull back on heavy-restrictions. 

Due to the decrease in cases reported in long-term care facilities, Ohio's Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown have resumed accepting new residents as well.

Return to schools

As of this week, all doses requested by schools through the state’s vaccination program have been allocated to local providers. Some school staff already received their second dose, and other second dose clinics are underway.

Ohio began making vaccines available to K-12 teachers this month with the goal of having all of Ohio’s K-12 students back to full or partial in-person learning by March 1. Right now, most students in Ohio districts have access to at least some in-person instruction.

DeWine did say he was 'disappointed' to learn that Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon announced that their return to hybrid in-person learning has been pushed back a week and will now begin on March 8.

RELATED: Cleveland schools delay shift to in-person learning by 1 week: See the updated plan

RELATED: Ohio sees more than 101,000 weekly jobless claims, about 28% flagged for potential fraud

You can watch the full briefing from Gov. DeWine's Thursday conference in the player below:

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