Ohio Order Prohibits Mass Gatherings and Other Business Operations

18 March 2020 Coronavirus Resource Center Blog
Authors: Christopher A. DeGennaro Ann Marie Uetz

UPDATE – March 22, 2020

Earlier today, Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton signed a Director’s Order requiring Ohioans to “stay at home or at their place of residence except as allowed in this Order.”  The Order prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit – with limited exceptions – and advises that any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited unless exempted specifically.
The Order directs that individuals may leave their homes or places of residence only for “Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to participate in Essential Businesses and Operations.”  The Order mandates that “non-essential” businesses and operations must cease.  
As set forth in the Order, the following are considered Essential Businesses and Operations, among others:  (1) the 16 infrastructure sectors – set forth here – identified by the federal government as vital to the security, public health, and safety of the United States; (2) businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other essential businesses and operations with the support or materials needed to operate; (3) critical trades; and (4) manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries.  
Importantly, the Order requires all Essential Businesses to take proactive measures to ensure compliance with Social Distancing as defined in the Order.   
The Order will take effect on March 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until April 6, 2020.  

ORIGINAL Alert - March 18, 2020

In addition to postponing Ohio’s Primary Election until June 2, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health issued additional guidance on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, prohibiting mass gatherings and certain business operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Director of Health, Amy Acton, signed a Director’s Order prohibiting any event or convening that brings together 50 or more persons in a single room or other confined indoor or outdoor space at the same time.  The order is effective until rescinded or the State of Emergency declared by Governor Mike DeWine no longer exists.

Director Acton clarified that, for the purposes of this Order, a mass gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, or other spaces where 50 or more persons may be in transit; nor does it include typical office environments, schools, restaurants, factories, or retail or grocery stores where large numbers of people are present, but it is unusual for them to be within arm's length of one another.  Separately, on March 14 and March 15 respectively, the Department of Health ordered that all schools cease instruction and all bars and restaurants cease dine-in operations until further notice.  

Director Acton’s Order prohibits the following businesses from continuing operations during this public health emergency: 

  • Bowling alleys
  • Health clubs/fitness centers/workout facilities/gyms/yoga studios
  • Indoor trampoline parks
  • Indoor water parks
  • Movie theatres and performance theatres
  • Public recreation facilities and indoor sports facilities. 

Regardless of whether an event or gathering falls within the definition of mass gathering, the Department of Health urges all Ohians to maintain social distancing (approximately six feet away from other people) whenever possible and to continue to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer, and practice proper respiratory etiquette.  Further, consistent with the Trump Administration’s guidance, the Department of Health recommends that Ohioans avoid unnecessary non-family gatherings of more than 10 people. 

It is not clear whether and to what extent Ohio will require or strongly recommend a “shelter in place” rule, similar to what has been ordered in Northern California and Orange County, California. Click here for the latest developments concerning Ohio’s response to Covid-19. 

Foley has created a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team, which has prepared a wealth of topical client resources and is prepared to help our clients meet the legal and business challenges that the coronavirus outbreak is creating for stakeholders across a range of industries. 

Click here for Foley’s Coronavirus Resource Center to stay apprised of relevant developments, insights and resources to support your business during this challenging time. To receive this content directly in your inbox, click here and submit the form. 

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