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Ohio Facial Covering Order Goes Into Effect Today

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a statewide order for facial coverings for citizens in public places which goes into effect at 6:00 p.m. today, July 23, 2020. Governor DeWine indicated via a press conference that all individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when:

  • At an indoor location that is not a residence
  • Outdoors, but unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members
  • Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, such as a taxi, a car service, or a private car used for ride-sharing

The order requires all individuals 10 years old or older to wear a mask. Additional exclusions include:

  • Those with a medical condition or a disability or those communicating with someone with a disability;
  • Those who are actively exercising or playing sports;
  • Those who are officiants at religious services;
  • Those who are actively involved in public safety; or
  • Those who are actively eating or drinking.

Schools should follow the guidance previously issued for K-12 and higher education pertaining to masks.

Governor DeWine’s order does not alter the Director of Health’s orders, which set forth mask requirements in places of business. Businesses must continue to require all employees to wear facial coverings, except for one of the following reasons:

  • Facial coverings in the work setting are prohibited by law or regulation;
  • Facial coverings are in violation of documented industry standards;
  • Facial coverings are not advisable for health reasons;
  • Facial coverings are in violation of the business’s documented safety policies;
  • Facial coverings are not required when the employee works alone in an assigned work area; or
  • There is a functional (practical) reason for an employee not to wear a facial covering in the workplace.

Governor DeWine’s order comes one week after Toledo City Council passed a mandatory mask ordinance for the city of Toledo, which became effective the evening of Monday, July 13, 2020. Under the ordinance, masks are required inside public buildings, including grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses or structures. Schools are exempt from the order and will be allowed to implement their own rules regarding mask use. Businesses that do not comply with the ordinance will face a $150 fine. Exceptions to Toledo’s rule include:

  • Any individual who cannot wear one because of a medical condition, mental health condition, or developmental disability; an individual is not required to produce medical documentation of the condition or disability, provided an employer may require such documentation from an employee in accordance with state and federal law.
  • Anyone under the age of 6.
  • Restaurant and bar patrons while eating or drinking and seated at their table.
  • In settings where it is not feasible, such as during a dental treatments, medical treatments, or swimming.
  • While engaged in exercising in a gym or other indoor facility so long as social distancing guidelines are met.
  • When an individual is in their work office, conference room, or other area not intended for use by the general public.

The ordinance will be enforced by the Toledo Police and the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. A first offense will receive a written warning, and a second violation will result in a minor misdemeanor.

It is unclear whether Governor DeWine’s order or the Director of Health’s orders supersede Toledo’s face covering policy within the city limits. As a practical matter, the orders and ordinance appear consistent with one another. The only significant distinction between Toledo’s ordinance and the orders of the Governor and Director of Health is the age exclusion.

In addition to the facial covering order, Governor DeWine also announced a travel advisory for all individuals coming into Ohio from states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher. Those traveling from one of the following states should self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

The self-quarantine recommendation applies to those who live in Ohio and to people who are traveling into Ohio from any of these states. Businesses which require interstate travel must be mindful of the travel advisory and should consider delaying travel to any of the above states for the time being.

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