Ohio non-essential businesses forced to close through April 6

Starting on Monday, March 23 at 11:59 p.m. all individuals in Ohio will be required to stay in their homes and all non-essential businesses will be required to shut their doors until at least April 6, 2020. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Sunday that Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed a mandatory stay at home order which will remain in effect until April 6, unless the same is rescinded or modified. The Director’s Stay at Home Order states “[with certain exceptions] all individuals currently within the State of Ohio are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence except as allowed [in the order].” In addition, “all businesses and operations in the [State of Ohio], except Essential Businesses and Operations…are required to cease all activities…except Minimum Basic Operations” and all Essential Business and Operations are encouraged to remain open and continue to comply with Social Distancing Requirements.

What is the scope of the order?

The Director’s Stay at Home Order applies to all individuals and businesses located in the State of Ohio and covers any for-profit, non-profit, or education entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function it performs, or its corporate or entity structure. Only individuals who work for an “essential business” or are performing an “essential activity” are exempt.

What activities are prohibited?

The Director’s Stay at Home Order prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household, unless otherwise permitted. Additionally, in accordance with President Trump’s March 16 guidelines, any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited. All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including carnivals, amusements parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, playgrounds, movie theaters, and social clubs are required to close immediately.

Does my business qualify as an “Essential Business or Operation”?

The Director’s Stay at Home Order exempts essential businesses and operations and defines those to include the following:

  1. Healthcare and public health operations – These businesses include hospitals, clinics, dental offices, pharmacies, public health entities, medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers, obstetricians, home healthcare services providers, mental health and substance use providers, and other facilities and suppliers of related or ancillary services. These types of businesses also include manufacturers, technicians, logistics and warehouse operators and distributers of medical equipment, such as personal protective equipment, sterilization supplies, and paper towel products.
  2. Human services operations – Under the order, individuals may seek services at providers such as the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and Department of Medicaid. Human services operations also includes day care centers and shelters.
  3. Essential infrastructure – Individuals may provide any services or perform any work necessary to offer, provision, operate, maintain and repair essential infrastructure. These types of services include, but are not limited to, food production, construction, building management, operating and maintenance of utilities, solid waste and recycling collection and removal, and internet and telecommunications systems.
  4. Essential governmental functions – All first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, legislators, judges, court personnel, jurors, law enforcement and corrections personnel, housing and shelter personnel, military, and other governmental employees working for or to support essential businesses and operations are exempt from the Director’s Stay at Home Order. The definition of essential government functions includes all services provided by the State of Ohio, any municipality, township, county, political subdivision, board, commission or agency of government, or contractor.
  5. CISA list – The Director’s Stay at Home Order states that the definition of essential businesses and operations includes all workers and businesses identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructures Agency’s Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response.
  6. Stores selling groceries and medicine – Grocery stores, pharmacies, farmers’ markets, convenience stores and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries.
  7. Food, beverage, and licensed marijuana production and agriculture – Farming, fishing, baking, cultivation and distribution of animals and goods for consumption, animal shelters and adoption facilities.
  8. Organizations providing charitable and social services – Food banks, shelters, and organizations providing food, shelter, social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or needy individuals.
  9. Religious entities – Religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
  10. Media – Newspapers, television, radio and other media services.
  11. First Amendment protected speech.
  12. Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation  - Gas stations and auto supply, auto-repair, boat repair, bicycle shops, and related facilities.
  13. Financial and insurance institutions – Banks, lenders, credit unions and related financial institutions.
  14. Hardware and supply stores – Businesses selling electrical, plumbing and heating materials.
  15. Critical trades – Building and construction tradesmen and tradeswomen and other trades such as plumbers, electricians, security staff, moving and relocation services, janitorial staff, and other providers who provide services that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residence, essential activities, and essential businesses and operations.
  16. Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services – Post offices and other businesses providing shipping and delivery services.
  17. Educational institutions – Public and private pre-K–12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research or performing essential functions. The Director’s Stay at Home Order does not amend or supersede any previous orders regarding the closure of schools.
  18. Laundry services – Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers.
  19. Restaurants for consumption off-premises – In-house delivery, third-party delivery, drive-through, curbside pick-up and carry-out. This also applies to schools and other entities that provide food services so long as the food is not eaten at the site where it is provided or at any other gathering site.
  20. Supplies to work from home – Businesses offering supply products needed for people to work from home.
  21. Supplies for essential businesses and operations  - Businesses providing materials such as computers, audio and video electronics, household appliances, IT equipment, paint, electrical, plumbing and heating materials, sanitary equipment, personal hygiene products, ammunition, and medical equipment.
  22. Transportation - Airlines, taxies, rental services, private and public commercial transportation, and network providers such as Uber and Lyft.
  23. Home-based care and services – Caregivers who provide home-based care for adults, seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities.
  24. Residential facilities and shelters – Shelters for adults, seniors, children, pets, or people with disabilities.
  25. Professional services – Legal, real estate, accounting, and insurance services.
  26. Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries – Companies that produce and supply products for industries such as healthcare, chemicals and sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, national defense, communications, petroleum and fuel, and transportation.
  27. Critical labor union functions – Administration of health and welfare funds and personnel checking on the well-being and safety of members providing Essential Businesses and Operations.
  28. Hotels and motels
  29. Funeral services – Funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery and related services

 

What does minimum basic operations mean for my non-essential business?

Under the Director’s Order all non-essential businesses are required to cease all operations except for those needed to perform minimum basic operations. Minimum basic operations include:

  1. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory preserve the condition of the business’s physical location and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or related functions.
  2. The minimum necessary activities required to assist employees work remotely.

 

Which activities are considered “essential activities”?

Individuals may only leave their residences to perform the following essential activities –

  1. Health and safety – Tasks essential to their or their family or household members’ health and safety. Permissible tasks include seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies, or visiting a health care professional.
  2. Supplies and services – To obtain supplies such as groceries or food, consumer products, or supplies needed to work from home.
  3. Outdoor activity – Activities such as walking, hiking, running or biking, so long as all individuals comply with the six feet social distancing requirement.
  4. Certain types of work – To perform work at essential businesses or operations as described above.
  5. To Care for Others – To care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household.

 

How will the order be enforced?

The Director’s Stay at Home Order will be enforced by state and local law enforcement to the extent set forth in Ohio law. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio National Guard will not be used to enforce the ay Director’s Stay at Home Order.

The Director’s Stay at Home Order will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6. At that time, the Ohio Department of Health will reevaluate any further need to extend or modify the order.

McDonald Hopkins has a team of professionals dedicated to assisting businesses experiencing financial distress as result of the Coronavirus. A list of articles focused on providing legal and business solutions to the impact of the Coronavirus on your business can be found at   https://www.mcdonaldhopkins.com/Insights/March-2020/Coronavirus-Legal-and-business-concerns.

If you have questions regarding the Ohio “stay-at-home” order or questions on if your business qualifies as “essential,” please contact the attorneys listed below:

 

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