Mask Requirements in Ohio and Kentucky: What Employers Need to Know


As COVID-19 cases surge throughout the country, elected officials in Ohio and Kentucky are instituting new mask requirements in order to curb the rise in cases locally. The result is a piecemeal collection of orders and laws. And keeping up with the changes can pose compliance challenges for employers—especially employers that have multiple locations.

While the new mask requirements vary, the bottom line is that they require masks in public places and businesses open to the public, but they do not change the industry based mask requirements that have been in effect for some time.

Here’s a breakdown:


On July 9, 2020 Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order requiring individuals to wear masks when in an outdoor or indoor public space when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. For businesses open to the public such as grocery stores, restaurants, and

The order does not apply to children under 5 and allows for exceptions in which people do not need to wear masks such as people with breathing problems, when eating or drinking, in a pool, or exercising, and similar circumstances in which wearing a mask would be unsafe.

The order went into effect on July 10, 2020 and is effective for 30 days.

Importantly, all prior mask requirements for businesses remain in effect; you can read those requirements here. These include compliance with minimum requirements (which requires masks in certain circumstances) and sector specific requirements.

There is pending litigation regarding the mask mandate (and all COVID-19 related executive orders), however, on July 17, 2020 the Kentucky Supreme Court ordered that the current executive orders will remain in effect pending a final ruling.

Northern Kentucky

As of today, no individual Northern Kentucky counties or cities have enacted separate mask orders.


Unlike Kentucky’s blanket statewide mask requirement, Governor DeWine has instituted a county-by-county approach.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System mandates that counties designated as Red Alert (Level 3) or Purple Alert (Level 4) are required to wear a face covering:

  • In any indoor location that is not a residence;
  • When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or
  • While waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle.


Like Kentucky, the mask mandate does not replace prior orders in   Ohio including protocols applicable to all businesses and sector specific requirements.

On July 17, 2020 an order  was issued expanding the exceptions in which masks are required.

Despite the current county-by-county approach, on July 19, 2020 in an interview Governor DeWine indicted that he’s considering a statewide mask mandate as cases worsen.


A mask order went into effect on July 9, 2020 that requires all individuals to wear masks inside businesses that are open to the public and in areas of a business that are open to the public. This includes when riding on public transportation, but religious facilities and schools are exempt.

The Cincinnati Ordinance adopted the same exceptions from the state order. The Board of Health is responsible for enforcement and the penalty for an individual violating the Cincinnati Order is $25 and is appealable through an administrative process. The Cincinnati Order will remain in effect until so long as the City of Cincinnati Declaration of Emergency remains in effect.

The above is meant to be a brief summary of the mask requirements, but they also highlight the reality that as long as we are living with COVID-19 businesses will need to monitor and comply with new and changing requirements as the pandemic ebbs and flows. As such, businesses will need to develop methods of monitoring changing laws and advisors that can help them navigate these challenging times.

Whether you need advice on mask requirements, COVID-19 written policies, compliance advice, or assistance in responding to health department inquiries, the Graydon COVID-19 Task Force can assist you in all you COVID-19 business needs.

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