Ohio governor says anti-lockdown protests are OK if protestors adhere to social distancing

Ohio protest
Protesters wave flags outside of the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio on April 18, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1.


  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he supported the state's citizens right to protest his social distancing orders, so long as they practice social distancing while demonstrating.

  • Several hundred people protested DeWine's stay-at-home order outside the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

  • President Trump has seemingly encouraged such protests, says some state governors have "have gotten carried away."

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said protests in his state against his stay-at-home order are permissible as long as the protestors adhere to the social distancing guidelines put in place by the order they are protesting.

"The only thing that I've asked our protestors to do is to observe social distancing," DeWine told NBC's Chuck Todd during an interview on Sunday's "Meet the Press" when Todd asked if he believed the president was "wise to politicize social distancing."

"We are big believers in the First Amendment," DeWine said. "They were protesting against me yesterday, and that's just fine, they have every right to do that. We are doing what we think is right, what I think is right. That is trying to open this economy, but doing it very very carefully, so we don't get a lot of people killed."

According to The Columbus Dispatch, hundreds of protestors showed up outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Saturday to protest DeWine's stay-at-home order, which closes non-essential businesses until May 1. The day prior, dozens of people showed up to the state capital to protest, according to the report.

Photos show protestors in large groups, closer than six feet apart, waving US flags and holding signs in protest of DeWine's order, which was put in place on March 22. Most protestors were seen without face masks, which the Centers for Disease Control now recommends to limit transmission of COVID-19.

Ohio protests
Protesters rally at the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio on April 18, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1st.


Hundreds of people in states across the US have similarly protested stay-at-home orders, calling for states to allow businesses to re-open and criticizing state governors' mandates as too restrictive. More than 200 people turned out to protest social distancing measures in California on Friday.

Health experts have continued to warn that re-opening portions of the US too soon could lead to a second wave of coronavirus cases, as places like New York have begun to report success in using social distancing measures to flatten the curve in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

President Donald Trump seemed to offer support for protestors who have fought state orders

"I mean I noticed there are a lot of protests out there, and I just think that some of the governors have gotten carried away," Trump said yesterday.

On Thursday, the president had sent tweets about three states where protests had occurred — Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia — calling on them to "liberate."

"He has chosen to focus on protest, and this is not the time for protest," Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Sunday during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union."

He added: "This is time for leadership that will stand up and provide empathy, that will understand what is going on in this country of ours with this pandemic. It's the time for truth and its the time to bring people together."

DeWine told Todd Ohio's plan to begin reopening shuttered portions of the state beginning May 1 was "very very consistent" with what the Ohio governor called a "very thoughtful plan" put forth by Trump. The White House on Thursday announced a three-part plan to begin re-opening portions of the US.

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