Darrell Clay

November 16, 2020 

In an effort to blunt the recent, rapid upswing in coronavirus infections throughout the State of Ohio, on Friday, November 13, 2020, the Department of Health issued an order updating requirements for the wearing of facial coverings, first issued in July.  The new order places additional mandates on retail establishments that offer goods in person to the public, and is intended effort to enhance compliance with the original mask-wearing order.

That order, issued in July, mandated that Ohioans must wear a mask when they are in any non-residential indoor location; or outdoors and not able to maintain six-foot social distancing requirements; and when waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, including taxis, car service, or ride-sharing services. Exceptions were made for children under age 10, those with medical conditions or disabilities, persons located indoors when separated by at least six feet from all other persons, and when actively engaged in exercise at a gym or other indoor facility.

The updated order continues all of the requirements of the July order, including specifically mandating that all persons wear a facial covering when they are “in or on the premises of a Retailer.” It also continues to require compliance with a May 29, 2020 order requiring that retailers adhere to capacity limits to ensure physical separation, provide ready access to hand sanitizer, require routine disinfection of high-contact surfaces, and use one-way directional signage if necessary to achieve physical distancing.

Under the new order, retailers also must now post “clearly visible signage” at all entrances, reminding customers of the requirement to wear a facial covering “at all times when in or on the Retail Premises.” The required signage is available to download for free at this link.

Retailers “shall ensure compliance with this Order at all locations,” by designating an “on-site compliance officer” at each location who is to “ensure compliance with this Order.” The Order does not specify how the Designated Compliance Officer must do so, but does indicate that retail employees need not place themselves in jeopardy or at risk of harm to ensure customer compliance.

Violations of the order result in immediate closure of the retail premises for up to 24 hours. This is intended to allow any coronavirus droplets to dissipate. Closure orders must be preceded by an initial warning to the retailer. The order places enforcement in the hands of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Retail Compliance Unit, local health departments, and local law enforcement officers, but also encourages citizens observing violations to contact the Ohio Department of Health.

The new order does not apply to businesses that are subject to other specific orders. This includes restaurants, bars, banquet and catering facilities; hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, body piercing locations, and tanning facilities; and gyms, dance instruction studios, and other personal fitness venues.

Finally, the new order specifically requires that a facial covering “fully cover” the wearer’s nose, mouth, and chin. It also explains that the covering should be “comfortable” so that it does not have to be adjusted frequently “so as to avoid touching the face.”

The new order takes effect on 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 16, 2020, and remains in effect unless the State of Emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic is lifted.

If you have questions, please reach out to us here. We are happy to help.

Darrell A. Clay is a partner at  Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on labor and employment and litigation. He can be reached at dclay@walterhav.com or at 216.928.2896.