The Ohio "Stay At Home" Order - Essential Businesses And Operations

CINCINNATI - Yesterday, March 22nd, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health issued a “Stay At Home Order” (the “Order”) laying out new formal rules for individuals and businesses in Ohio, all of which are effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 23, 2020 and which will remain in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. The Order has been issued under the authority granted to the Ohio Department of Health under Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.13, which permits the Director to make special orders for preventing the spread of contagious or infectious diseases. The key takeaways from the Order are as follows:

  1. Identify whether your business is an Essential Business or a Non-Essential Business. The Order provides many categories and examples of businesses in either category. Businesses are categorized by the type of product or service they provide: not by whether they are structured as a not-for-profit or for-profit, or their choice of entity.

    i. Definitions. Essential Businesses include, at a high level, the following categories: healthcare operations; human services operations; essential infrastructure; essential government functions; stores that sell groceries and medicine; food, beverage, and licensed marijuana production and agriculture; organizations that provide charitable and social services; religious entities; media and first amendment protected speech; gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; financial and insurance institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades; mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; educational institutions; laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; supplies to work from home; supplies for essential businesses and operations; transportation; home-based care and services; residential facilities and shelters; professional services; manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; critical labor union functions; hotels and motels; and funeral services. Attached is the full Order containing further definitions and examples—but note that the examples in each listed category are not exhaustive, and categorizing some businesses may require careful analysis

    ii. Non-Essential Businesses. Non-Essential Businesses are those that do not fall under the definition of Essential Business. Additionally, the Order specifically defines certain categories of businesses as Non-Essential Businesses: all places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including, but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children's play centers, playgrounds, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs, fitness and exercise gyms, spas, salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and similar facilities.
  2. Ensure Social Distancing Requirements. Regardless of whether your business is an Essential Business or a Non-Essential Business, the Order requires that you take proactive measures to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements, which are: (i) designating six foot distances for employees and customers in lines, (ii) providing hand sanitizing products for employees and customers, (iii) implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers, and (iv) providing information online regarding whether you are open for business and how best to your reach your business.
  3. For Non-Essential Businesses, Reduce to Minimum Basic Operations. If you are a Non-Essential Business, effective as of 11:59 p.m. on March 23, 2020, unless your business is operated entirely by your workforce working from home, you may only conduct Minimum Basic Operations. Minimum Basic Operations are only the following: (i) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of your business's inventory, preserve the condition of your business's physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions, and (ii) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of your business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

For further assistance, please contact your regular Katz Teller attorney, or you may contact Gabriel Kurcab (gkurcab@katzteller.com or 513-977-3485), or Matt Rich (mrich@katzteller.com or 513-977-3475).

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