Coronavirus: Do community parades violate the governor’s stay-at-home order?

Montgomery County health officials struck the community Thursday, when they stated various parade celebrations should cease under the state’s stay-at-home order.

Commissioner Jeff Cooper explained that the order bans non-essential trips, and parades are not ‘essential.’ But is this interpretation correct?

Governor DeWine touched on the subject of parades at a press conference Friday, saying one held in Philadelphia during the 1918 pandemic resulted in a devastating number of cases.

“When you have a parade it’s not just the people in the parade, it’s people who are going to watch the parade, they’re congregating on the side.”

It’s unclear if the governor was referring to only traditional parades, or if he feels those that follow social distancing guidelines should also be banned. DeWine has celebrated a few of the drive-by parades at his conferences.

This newsroom reached out to the governor’s office for clarity, but have not received a response yet. We were told by his spokesperson that guidance around these parades has not been handed down officially by the state to the local level.

County residents debated Thursday and Friday over local health officials’ stance on parades, explaining that Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton have also praised Ohioans for taking part in other ‘non-essential’ activities.

“It is completely absurd that these wouldn’t be allowed!” a woman named Sarah posted to our WHIO Facebook page.

A post from the Kettering police department received hundreds of comments on the issue.

We hate to post this but all parades are canceled. The health commissioner has ruled that they do not comply with the stay at home order. :(

Posted by Kettering Police Department on Thursday, April 9, 2020

Google released mobility data last week, showing a 117% increase in park visits by Ohioans, and Dr. Acton cited this as a major positive. “This is what we want to see," she said in a press conference, explaining a likely causation to the significant drop in other activities.

Community parades, held for children’s birthdays, by teachers for students, and to honor health officials, likely pose a similar risk to that of spending time in a community recreational area, residents argue.