On Sunday, March 22, 2020, to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health (the “Director”), exercised her authority under Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.13 to issue a quarantine and isolation order, titled “Director’s Stay at Home Order” (the “Order”).
WHEN IS THE ORDER EFFECTIVE?
The Order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020 and continues until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020
WHAT DOES THE ORDER DO?
The effect of the order is to provide guidelines and grant authority to local law enforcement and boards of health to enforce the Director’s previous COVID-19-related orders closing nonessential businesses and social distancing practices. The Order provides exceptions to the stay-at-home requirements for many workers and provides useful guidelines to protect workers and limit the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, the Order does the following:
- Requires Ohio residents to stay home unless an exception applies
- Nonessential businesses must cease operations except for work-from- home activities and on-site “Minimum Basic Operations”
- Essential businesses may continue operating, but must abide by “Social Distancing” requirements.
CAN A BUSINESS STAY OPEN DURING THIS TIME?
If your business is an Essential Business under the Order it may continue on-site operations. If your business is not an Essential Business under the Order, it is a nonessential business and must close and cease operations with limited exceptions. Ohio residents are permitted to leave their homes and report to work if their work provides services to an Essential Business. All businesses with onsite operations are required to meet “Social Distancing” requirements as outlined by the Order.
The list of Essential Businesses in the Order is expansive. The Order categorizes the following types of businesses as Essential Businesses that may continue on-site operations while meeting the Order’s Social Distancing Requirements:
- Businesses employing Critical Infrastructure Workers as defined in the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response:
- Healthcare and public health
- Law Enforcement, Public Safety and first responders;
- Food and agriculture;
- Water and wastewater;
- Transportation and logistics;
- Public works;
- Communication and information technology
- Community-based government operations and essential functions;
- Critical manufacturing;
- Hazardous materials;
- Financial services;
- Defense Industrial Base.
- Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks and convenience stores;
- Food and beverage production, distribution, fulfillment centers and storage facilities;
- Manufacturers and supply chain for critical products and industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotech, healthcare, chemical and sanitization, fuel, mining and national defense;
- Restaurants for delivery and carry-out only;
- Hardware stores, supply stores for electrical, plumbing and heating material, HVAC and plumbers;
- Gas stations;
- Laundromats/laundry services;
- Hotels and motels;
- Banks and financial institutions;
- Legal and other professional services;
- Funeral services;
- Shipping services;
- Long-term care facilities;
- Insurance providers;
- News media;
- Religious entities;
- Building management and maintenance;
- Airport operations, railways, roads and public transit;
- Internet, video, and telecommunications systems;
- Utilities operations and maintenance;
- Public works;
- Garbage and recycling services;
- Essential state and local government offices and services, including law enforcement.
Nonessential businesses must cease operations except to the extent their operations can be performed remotely. Additionally, nonessential businesses may continue on-site “Minimum Basic Operations”. The Order defines Minimum Basic Operations as:
- The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plan and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
- The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue working remotely.
Even if the Order classifies your business as a Nonessential Business, your business may continue on-site operations to preserve the business while complying with the Order through the Order’s term and as minimally necessary to facilitate remote operations.
Social Distancing Requirements
The Order requires that all persons maintain a Social Distance from any other person (other than another member of their household) when occupying a shared space away from home. To meet the Order’s Social Distancing Requirements, businesses must do the following where possible for those working onsite:
- Ensure all persons present may maintain at least a six foot physical distance from any other person at all times;
- Designate such six-foot physical spacing with signage, tape or by other means;
- Provide the opportunity for frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizing for both employees and customers;
- Maintain a policy requiring workers to not shake hands and to cover their coughs and sneezes with sleeves or elbows and not hands;
- Regularly clean high touch surfaces;
- Maintain separate operating hours for elderly or vulnerable costumers; and
- Post online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services remotely.
HOW WILL THE ORDER BE ENFORCED?
The Order authorizes local law enforcement and local boards of health to enforce its mandates. Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.56 authorizes police officers and other local government officials to enforce “quarantine and isolation orders”. The Order delegates authority to interpret its provisions to local boards of health. Local law enforcement may order anyone violating the order to comply and may enforce any applicable local laws against a failure to obey such order. ORC Section 3201.57 authorizes the Department of Health to impose fines up to $750 for anyone violating the Order. Additionally, businesses failing to comply with the Order may be subject to forfeiture of their licenses or other administrative or civil penalties.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ORDER?
While this advisory is not legal advice, you can call your Singerman, Mills, Desberg & Kauntz Co., L.P.A. attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. We are available to assist you in answering questions about the Order and how it applies to you or your business.