April 3, 2020
By: Clare Armbruster, Esq. and Lisa Pizza, Esq.
On April 2nd, 2020, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health issued an amended stay-at-home Order. The new Order takes effect April 6th (when the original Order would have expired) and remains in effect through May 1st. It will supersede previous Orders.
The Order requires all non-essential businesses to cease all activities in Ohio except for Minimum Basic Operations. Minimum Basic Operations are activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’s inventory and preserve the condition of its physical plant; ensure security and process payroll and employee benefits; or engage in the minimum activities to facilitate employees being able to work from home.
While maintaining Minimum Basic Operations, where possible, businesses must designate minimum 6-foot distances with tape, signage, or other means, and implement separate operating hours for vulnerable populations, have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available, and post online whether a facility is open and how best to continue services by phone or remotely.
The Order allows businesses that exclusively operate by a contractor or employee performing activities at their own residences, or where the business consists of a single person, to continue to operate.
Essential businesses – like grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc. – can remain open BUT must implement new social distancing and sanitizing procedures:
* Those stores must determine maximum numbers of persons who can be in the store at any one time while safely maintaining a 6-foot distance from each other. Businesses must keep no more than that set amount of people in the store at once.
* The stores must prominently display a notice of their maximum capacity number at every entrance.
* The stores must ensure that baskets and shopping carts are properly cleaned between customers.
* If there is a line inside or outside the store, the store must ensure that a 6-foot distance is maintained between people who do not reside in the same household.
Local law enforcement is specifically authorized to enforce the Order.
The Order also establishes a State Dispute Resolution Commission to evaluate and render decisions in situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion about what is or is not an essential business. Either local health department can submit the dispute to the Commission, which will make the final determination. The goal is to help standardize enforcement of business restrictions across the State.
Governor DeWine also indicated in his daily press conference that retail employees can wear a face mask while working, but that N95 surgical masks should be saved for health care workers. Instead, he recommended that retail workers use homemade masks.
The amended stay-at-home Order contains additional detail about the above matters, and also addresses other topics not covered in this article. The Order is available in its entirety here.
If you have questions, we welcome you to contact us.
This article is meant to provide a summary of potentially applicable issues and updates, and is not legal advice.