Area high schools and universities are making arrangements for year-end graduations. So far, most ceremonies will take place outdoors in stadiums, on grassy fields and in grandstands with fingers crossed for clear blue skies.
Just this week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced revised orders paving the way for in-person commencements, proms, fairs, parades, festivals and other large gatherings as long as coronavirus health precautions like mask wearing and social distancing are followed.
What a contrast from last year when these celebrations were canceled, put on virtual platforms or turned into drive-thru events due to COVID-19.
But don’t go wild just yet. The revised orders from the Ohio Department of Health do not erase specific rules previously written for each industry or group. Instead, the revised orders contain general rules for mask wearing, distancing and other precautions that now apply to everyone across the board.
Groups still must be limited to 10 or fewer people, especially within large events. Indoor venues remain at 25 percent capacity under the new order and people must be seated while eating and drinking at bars.
Gov. DeWine calls it “back to basics.” The goal of the revision was simplicity, he said.
Although vaccinations are being rolled out and the age qualification dropped to 16, Ohio still has a significant rate of new COVID-19 cases. Gov. DeWine’s goal is 50 cases per 100,000 population before restrictions can be fully lifted. On Tuesday, the rate was 167 cases per 100,000 people. We have a way to go.
So, yes, celebrate, but be mindful. The battle to contain COVID-19 is not over yet.