On July 7, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will issue an order requiring residents of counties in which there is a high risk for transmission of COVID-19 to wear face coverings. This requirement takes effect at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8, 2020.
Ohio has four classifications for each county’s COVID-19 transmission risk, with level 1 (yellow) being the lowest risk and level 4 (purple) being the highest level. Under the forthcoming Order, if a county reaches level 3 (red) or above, residents of the county must wear face coverings in three situations:
- Any indoor location that is not a residence;
- Outdoors when social distancing between those not of the same household is not feasible; and
- Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or ride-sharing vehicles.
The Order is not universal, however, and there are exceptions:
- Children under 10 years old;
- People whose physicians advise against wearing a mask;
- Locations where wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation;
- If communicating with people who are hearing-impaired; and
- If you are alone in your office or personal workspace.
Regarding potential penalties for non-compliance, the current penalty for violating an Ohio health order is a second-degree misdemeanor with the potentiality of up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $750.
This Order is not the only face-covering mandate in place within the State of Ohio. Recently, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance to require individuals to wear masks indoors in public places starting July 9. The City of Cincinnati’s order will be enforced by the Cincinnati Health Department.
Additionally, a consortium of chambers of commerce in Cincinnati created the Restart Task Force that has published series of marketing materials businesses may use as well as sample plans to implement for employees to safely return to work. These materials are available at https://restartcincinnati.com/. Businesses looking to craft mask-wearing protocols and safe return plans should contact DBL Law for advice, as every business is different and has unique needs.