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Ohio lifts COVID health orders: What the changes mean for you

Businesses can still require masks or maintain other COVID-19 safety precautions at their own discretion.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s official. After more than a year, Ohio’s COVID health orders have been lifted as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday – including the statewide mask mandate. Other measures that have been dropped are social distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions for indoor / outdoor events.

A select few orders remain in place, however, namely those mandating face masks at health care facilities and nursing homes. Those facilities -- as well as grade schools -- are also still required to notify residents, students, parents or other relevant parties of any positive or probable COVID-19 cases.

It's important to note that businesses can also still require masks or keep other COVID-19 safety protocols active at their own discretion -- so it's best to keep a mask with you even if you're fully vaccinated.

RELATED: ENTER NOW | Ohio's COVID vaccine lottery registration: How to enter the $1 million Vax-a-Million drawings

With Ohio's health orders lifted, the Cleveland Indians are opening games to full capacity with masks optional.

"If you feel comfortable going without one, you can do that," Curtis Danburg of the Cleveland Indians tells 3News. "If you want to still wear one, we respect that, too."

“It is time to end the health orders,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said back on May 12 when announcing his plans to lift the state’s COVID orders. “It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus. Now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

Gov. DeWine issued a statement Tuesday afternoon asking unvaccinated Ohioans to continue wearing a mask indoors despite the health orders being lifted. You also have the choice to continue wearing a mask based on your personal preference.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine asks unvaccinated Ohioans to still mask up indoors ahead of statewide health orders lifting

Lifting Ohio's health orders comes as nearly half of the state's population has received at least one COVID vaccine. You can track the latest COVID-19 vaccination data with the interactive map below (the darker green indicates states with the highest vaccination rates):

RELATED: WATCH | Meet the first Vax-a-Million winners in Ohio's COVID vaccine lottery: 'I still can't believe it'

Last week, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also announced the end of the city's COVID-19 civil emergency.

“Despite the ongoing decline in new COVID-19 cases, the City will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 data,” said Jackson in a statement. “If new cases, hospitalizations and/or deaths begin to rise, we will revisit the decision to reopen. We must continue to be vigilant and use the measures we know have been effective – get your vaccine, wash your hands and social distance. The pandemic is not over.” 

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