Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addresses members of the media during a press conference updating the public on COVID-19 on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

As Ohio’s original stay-at-home order expires Friday, the state will begin to ease some restrictions while upholding social distancing guidelines with a new, similar order meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced at a Friday press conference the Stay Safe Ohio order, which extends many of the same restrictions from the state’s previous stay-at-home order — including restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people — until May 29. But he said the end date was insignificant and that restrictions will be lifted or modified as the impact of the virus changes.

“The order itself will be superseded as we issue new orders throughout the month. You just have to put a date on it — didn’t want to put an unending date,” DeWine said. “We wanted to have a date certain, but as I said, things will change, so no one should be too fixated on whatever that date is.”

Hospitals, dentists and veterinary clinics opened Friday for nonessential appointments. DeWine said certain offices that follow health guidelines put forth by the state will be allowed to open Monday.

Retail stores, which will be allowed to open at limited capacity May 12, are now allowed to deliver curbside services and make in-store appointments for groups smaller than 10 people. Groups made up of health experts and business leaders are developing plans to reopen restaurants, hair salons and gyms.

At the time of publication, there were 18,962 cases of COVID-19, 1,002 deaths and 3,634 hospitalizations in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health website. These numbers included confirmed and probable cases as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DeWine said that in order to reopen businesses, it is important to first establish business practices that ensure the safety of employees and customers.

“We have to engender confidence and let people know that it is safe,” he said. “It is safe, as safe as it can be made. The virus is still there, but it’s as safe as it can be made.”