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    DeWine announces new county-specific mask requirements, general business and social distancing and industry specific orders extended

    At his July 7, 2020, press conference, Governor DeWine announced that the administration is taking additional steps to curb the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. Utilizing the public health advisory alert system announced the week prior, DeWine said that the Ohio Department of Health will issue a new mask requirement for counties that reach Level 3 or higher. Details regarding the announcement of the order are below and the actual order language can be found here.

    As expected, the Ohio Department of Health issued a new public health order that extended all of its previous orders set to expire on July 7, 2020. The new order extends several past orders, including orders that reopened restaurants, campgrounds, contact and non-contact sports, gyms and hair salons. The new order also extends past industry specific orders/guidelines and the general business guidance and social distancing orders. These past public health orders are still in effect. (All past orders incorporated into the new order can be found on Ohio’s COVID-19 website.) The new order extended the previous orders until the “state of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies the Order,” whichever happens first. Therefore, there is no defined end date to the new order.

    Public health advisory alert system overview

    The newly-created public health advisory alert system gives the public at large a clearer picture of the dangers from COVID-19 at the county level. Utilizing a color-coded four-level system, the health advisory system shows the risk level for each county. The public health advisory system utilizes seven data indicators to make the determination of which threat level is appropriate.

    The public health advisory system is updated weekly, on Wednesdays, to account for fluctuations in reporting data. Threat levels are applied based on how many different data indicators are triggered. The indicators are:

    • The county has an average of 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period
    • The number of new cases continually increases over a five-day period
    • More than 50 percent of new cases originating from non-congregate settings during one of the past three weeks
    • Sustained increase in ER visits due to COVID-19 over a five-day period
    • Sustained increase in outpatient visits due to COVID-19 over a five-day period
    • Sustained increase in hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over a five-day period

    The respective threat levels are explained below:

    • Level 1 (Yellow): The county has triggered one or fewer of the data indicators. All current health orders (both state and local) must be followed in these counties.
    • Level 2 (Orange): The county has triggered two or three of the data indicators. All current health orders must be followed. Residents are advised to exercise a high degree of caution.
    • Level 3 (Red): A county has triggered four or five of the seven data indicators. In addition to following all health orders in effect, Ohioans are advised to limit activities as much as possible.
    • Level 4 (Purple): Six or seven of the indicators are triggered. In addition to following all health orders, Ohioans should stay home as much as possible and only leave home for supplies and services.

    Masks/facial coverings requirement state public health order

    Utilizing the health advisory system, counties that reach Level 3 or higher will be subject to a mask/facial covering mandate. Based on the governor’s comments, the order will mirror similar mask requirements generally required for businesses and employees in Ohio, with the same exceptions (documented industry standard preventing face coverings, practical reasons such as high temperatures, health reasons or prevented by federal law/regulation). Instead, masks will be required in public areas, such as retail stores and waiting areas and outdoor areas where social distancing is not easily maintained.

    Once a county reaches Level 3, the mandate remains in effect until a county drops to Level 2. The new mask requirement will be enforced by local law enforcement and health departments. Governor DeWine emphasized that businesses will not be charged with enforcing the mask requirement.

    There are currently seven counties at Level 3: Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull, and the order takes effect Wednesday, July 8 at 6:00 p.m.

    Local mask ordinances/orders

    Over the past several days, Ohio municipalities have imposed requirements for wearing masks or facial coverings when in public spaces, buildings, businesses or other enclosed areas. For example, the city of Dayton enacted an emergency order that took effect July 3 that requires individuals to wear a mask in enclosed areas. The city published an FAQ on the new ordinance.

    Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced an emergency order that similarly requires masks, and Columbus City Council followed up by passing an ordinance on July 6 that codifies Mayor Ginther’s order. The Columbus ordinance imposes penalties, after first receiving a warning. Individuals not wearing masks while inside businesses and in certain outdoor circumstances would face a $25 fine for each infraction. Businesses would face fines of $500 for a second violation and then $1,000 for each subsequent violation.

    In areas where a local mask ordinance/order is in effect, the county’s rating on the health advisory system has no impact on the enforceability of local/municipal mask ordinances.

    Below is a list of the municipalities that have enacted ordinances/orders to require facial coverings.

     

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