DeWine said this measure, effective Thursday, is needed to reduce cases and stop the state's hospitals from being overrun.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday announced a three-week retail curfew running from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus as cases stay at near-record high levels.

DeWine said this measure, effective Thursday, is needed to reduce cases and stop the state’s hospitals from being overrun. The curfew under which retail businesses must close, paired with increased mask-wearing, could help cut contacts between people by 20% to 25%, he said.

DeWine also asked Ohioans to consolidate their movements – such as combining shopping trips – and do at least one thing daily to reduce contact with others.

“We know if we reduce number of people we come in contact every day, we reduce the chance of getting the virus, and we reduce the chance of getting the virus if you unknowingly have it,” the governor said.

The Republican governor had been signaling such a restriction was in the works. In a series of Monday tweets, he said the rapid spread of the virus recently has made people’s odds of contracting it much higher.

“We’re not talking about shutting down, we’re talking about slowing down,” the governor tweeted Monday. Ohio is seeing tremendous spread of coronavirus cases because people are letting their guard down around friends and family, DeWine said.

DeWine warned last week he could order another shutdown of restaurants and bars. The hospitality industry has criticized the announcement, saying there’s no evidence they are a cause of spread and that such a move would be economically devastating.

Ohio hospital and intensive care admissions for COVID-19 are at record highs, with more than 3,600 people hospitalized as of Tuesday. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 3,097 new cases per day on Nov. 2 to 7,199 new cases per day on Nov. 16, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

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