OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday announced new restrictions to combat COVID-19.
Stitt also said he would take the vaccination when it is his turn. Oklahoma expects to have 166,000 doses by the end of the month.
During a press conference Thursday, Stitt outlined an additional executive order limiting crowds at youth indoor sporting events to four spectators per participant or 50% of the building’s capacity, whichever is lower.
The measure, said Stitt spokesman Charlie Hannema, applies to high school events and other youth athletics.
Public gatherings will be limited to 50% of capacity unless the local health department has granted an exception, Stitt said.
Public gatherings include weddings, funerals and holiday parties at event centers, Stitt said.
“This doesn’t apply to churches, but I want them to continue to innovate,” Stitt said, explaining that some houses of worship have offered virtual services and instituted social distancing protocols.
Stitt said he will be extending already implemented rules for bars and restaurants that require tables to be at least six feet apart and closure at 11 p.m. except through drive-through and delivery service.
Masks will continue to be required for state employees at work and for people visiting state buildings.
“I know these actions will personally affect many Oklahomans,” Stitt said. “These are difficult and complex decisions. I want every Oklahoman to know I don’t take any of these decisions lightly.”
Stitt is believed to be the first governor to test positive for COVID-19. He recovered and donated convalescent plasma more than once.
He was asked whether he and his family would take the vaccination once doses become readily available.
“As far as I am concerned, I am not going to jump in front of any health professional or long-term care professional,” Stitt said. “So, I will wait my turn in line. I already had the antibodies and so I am not sure exactly what the doctors say. I always recommend that people listen to their doctors and believe in vaccinations.
“When it comes my turn, I am sure I will take it.”
Stitt also thanked health care workers for their dedication to fighting the virus and Oklahomans are making sacrifices to protect their loved ones and neighbors from it.
The governor said he met earlier this week with nurses and doctors in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. “I did a lot of listening,” he said.
The state’s front-line medical personnel are exhausted and have been fighting the pandemic since March, he said.
“Our health care workers are our heroes in this fight against this virus,” Stitt said. “Their stories are real and they need our help.”