Statewide curfew, new mask mandate, and ban on social gatherings: What do Ohio’s new orders mean for your business?


As the United States is reporting record number of cases on a daily basis, Governor DeWine has joined a growing list of governors and mayors across the country who are taking new steps to try to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Over the last week Governor DeWine has issued three orders that beef up the statewide mask mandate, place additional limits on social gatherings, and establish a 21-day curfew.

The following is a summary of what businesses need to know about the new orders.

Statewide Curfew

Governor DeWine has not issued a final order, but here’s what we know based on press conferences and a news release from the Governor’s Office:

  • The curfew requires residents to stay between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • The curfew goes into effect Thursday, November 19 and will be in effect for 21 days.
  • The curfew will not apply to those traveling for work, seeking medical attention, in an emergency (emergency is not defined), or getting groceries or medicine.

In a news conference, Governor DeWine said the curfew applies to individuals, not businesses. So, no businesses have to close during curfew hours and everyone who has to work during those hours still can.

The penalty is the same as under all other health orders: a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. In a news conference, Governor DeWine said he doesn’t expect local law enforcement to people over that out during the curfew, but indicated that police officer may approach people they see out after 10:30 p.m.

Updates Mask Order governing retailers

On November 13, Governor DeWine issued a new order updating mask requirements already in place for retail establishments (see July 23, 2020 order). Retail establishments are defined as a “store, retail business, or other enterprise in Ohio offering goods in person to the public….”

The new order restates that everyone over the age of 10 must wear a mask while at a retail business and adds the following provisions:

  • Retail businesses are required to post a sign describing mask requirements.
  • Retail businesses are responsible for enforcing the order, but the order states that employees “are not required to place themselves in jeopardy or risk harm.”
  • Retail businesses must designate a compliance officer.
  • A new Retail Compliance Unit, led by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, will inspect to ensure compliance.
  • A violation will result in closure of the store for up to 24 hours (to allow for “dissipation of COVID-19 airborne droplets.”

The new order went into effect Tuesday, November 16.

Updates to the Social Gathering Order

The new order updates the September 23, 2020 order that allowed restaurants, bars, banquet and catering facilities to reopen (the restrictions and operating requirements in the September 23, 2020 order remain in effect).

The new order bans all public and private gatherings of more than 10 people outside of a residence. The order sets out certain exceptions to the 10 person limit: weddings, funerals, “religious observances,” or government meetings, media activities.

The new order places additional restrictions on wedding receptions, funeral gatherings, and banquet facilities: guests must be seated at all times, no dancing, guests must be served at their seats (no walk-up bars, buffets, etc.), and no activities or socializing in open congregate areas. Masks must be worn at all times and no more than 10 people can be seated at a table (and those individuals must be from the same household).

The new order went into effect Tuesday, November 17.

At Graydon, our multi-disciplinary team stays up to date on the latest COVID-19 laws, guidance, and best practices so we can work alongside businesses as they navigate operating in pandemic environment. Contact your Graydon attorney or a member of our Graydon COVID-19 Task Force for more information on how we can assist you in all you COVID-19 business needs.

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