Revised Order on Face Coverings Released by Ohio Department of Health
Wednesday evening, Governor DeWine indicated that a revised health order on face covering enforcement in retail establishments was forthcoming. Indeed, we recently received the order and are sharing it with you now. It takes effect at 12:01 am on November 16, 2020.
The order stipulates that all persons are required to wear a facial covering at all times they are in or on the premises of a retailer. The same face covering exemptions from the original order of July 23, 2020 remain in place and can be found on pages one and two of that previous order. All other requirements such as social distancing, washing/sanitizing hands frequently, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas, disinfecting high touch items such as carts, baskets and other equipment after each use and actively encouraging sick employees to stay home also remain. New requirements of the order include placing hand sanitizer in high contact locations and arranging store aisles to be directionally one-way if necessary to ensure appropriate social distancing.
In addition, retailers must enforce the requirement that all customers wear a face covering when inside a store or when standing in line to enter a store. The order does not, however, require businesses to deny service to customers not wearing face coverings, nor does it require employees to place themselves in jeopardy or risk of harm when seeking to comply with the order. It also now allows face shields that come below the chin as an accommodation to those unable to wear a mask.
Each retailer must designate an on-site compliance officer for each location and each shift during all business hours whose responsibility is to ensure compliance with this order. In addition, retailers must place signage at each entrance publicizing the face covering mandate. They must also post signage at each entrance, and on their website, about alternative accommodations for people unable to wear a mask. Additional signage is required that states the maximum capacity limit determined pursuant to the May 29, 2020 Director’s Updated and Revised Order for Business Guidance and Social Distancing. Click on this link to be directed to the coronavirus.ohio.gov “Posters and Signs” web page for signage examples.
The order will be enforced by the new Retail Compliance Unit made up of agents from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) as well as local health departments and districts and law enforcement. Businesses found to be out of compliance will receive a written warning for the first violation identified. Upon a second violation by a business, they can be ordered closed for a period of up to 24 hours by any agent referenced above acting on behalf of the state. All retailers shall cooperate fully with any inspection or investigation of compliance. The order also provides a hotline number for citizens witnessing violations of the order, which is not required to be posted by the retailer. Nothing in this order supersedes any law or order of a local jurisdiction that is more restrictive than this order.
Yesterday we erroneously reported that congregate areas in businesses such as bars and restaurants must be closed, that customers must be seated and wearing a mask if not actively eating or drinking, and that activities such as dancing and playing games are prohibited. This specific order does not apply to bars and restaurants. We apologize for the misinterpretation.