On Sunday March 22, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued an Order directing Ohio residents to stay home unless he or she was deemed to be an essential employee or engaged in an essential activity. This Order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 23, 2020, and is to remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020, unless a new mandate is issued. Under this Order, all Ohio businesses deemed “non-essential” were to cease operations. However, as with many laws, there are exceptions and those include:
- Healthcare and Public Health Operations;
- Essential Infrastructure which includes food/medicine production & distribution, construction projects, building management and maintenance and maintenance of utilities;
- Human Services Operations;
- Critical Infrastructure Sector jobs–also known as CISA jobs–which can be found at: https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors;
- Stores that sell groceries and medicines;
- Food, beverage and licensed marijuana production and agriculture;
- Organizations that provide charitable and social services;
- Religious entities;
- Media Entities;
- Gas stations or businesses needed for transportation;
- Financial institutions and insurance institutions;
- Hardware and supply stores;
- Critical trades;
- Mail, post, shipping logistics, delivery, and pick-up services;
- Educational institutions whose purpose is facilitating distance learning;
- Laundry Services;
- Restaurants and bars for consumption off premises;
- Businesses that sell supplies that support people working from home;
- Business that sell supplies or support other essential businesses and operations;
- Transportation services;
- Professional Services – including legal, accounting and real estate services;
- Labor Unions for critical functions;
- Hotels and Motels; and
- Funeral services.
Further, travel into or out of Ohio is only allowed for essential businesses and operations and individuals may only leave their homes for: health and safety, necessary supplies and services such as food, automobile supplies, household items, outdoor activity, essential work, and to care for others. In this regard, all private and public gatherings occurring outside of a single household are specifically prohibited and include any gathering of more than 10 people. Finally, any violation of this Order is deemed a misdemeanor.
With this noted, all businesses–nonessential and essential–are permitted to maintain minimum basic operations so long as employees comply with social distancing requirements. Minimum basic operations include: activities to maintain the value of inventory, preserve the condition of physical plant/equipment, ensure security and process payroll and employee benefits. The Order also details the State’s mandated social distancing requirements, which include maintaining at least six-foot distancing from other individuals. Businesses must designate six-foot distances with signage, tape or other means, so that employees and customers in line maintain appropriate space from others. Businesses must also provide hand sanitizer or sanitizing products, implement separate hours for vulnerable populations, and post online whether a facility is open and how to reach the facility.
In light of this Order, businesses are advised to take the following actions:
- Allow as many employees to work from home as possible;
- Encourage sick employees to stay home until fever-free for 72 hours, and at least seven days has passed without symptoms and do not require a physician’s note;
- Ensure sick leave policies are up to date and maintain flexibility; and
- Encourage employees to do a self-assessment each day for fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc…).
The full text of the March 22 Order may be found at:
With all of this noted, the key is to be informed. If you have any questions about this Order or its legal ramifications, please contact Dworken & Bernstein at 440-352-3391 or visit our website at www.dworkenlaw.com.