Ohio Sets Date For Additional Businesses To Re-Open

In COVID-19 Information Hub by Coolidge Wall

Restaurants, Bars, Hair Salons and Barbershops Among Those Included in May 7, 2020 Order

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Ohio Governor DeWine announced Ohio’s plan for additional nonessential businesses to open their doors to customers. Governor DeWine has announced that the restaurant and personal care working groups, which are two separate Ohio task forces comprised of stakeholders in these business sectors, have concluded their work. These two working groups have submitted their completed reports containing best practices and guidelines for re-opening to the Governor. While Ohio’s Stay Safe Order still prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people, the Governor announced that these additional businesses can join the other non-essential businesses that have already been permitted to open. A full explanation of those businesses was provided in our previous blog post which can be found here.

The timetable announced by Governor Dewine is as follows:

May 15: Reopening for Hair Salons, Barbershops, Nail Salons, Tanning Facilities, Day Spas and Restaurant Outdoor Dining. While personal care businesses will re-open on May 15, the way customers receive services and the manner in which the services are provided will be different. Debbie Penzone, the Chair for the personal care working group, explained that customers may be required to wait in their car to be called for their scheduled appointment. Additionally, only customers with a scheduled appointment who are actually receiving the service may be permitted within the business, unless the customer is a child or individual with special needs requiring a caretaker or guardian.

Employees providing services will be required to wear masks and individual businesses are provided the discretion to require customers to wear masks or facial coverings while receiving services. Additionally, businesses will be removing common items often provided in the lobby or waiting area of salons, spas and barbershops, such as magazines and newspapers.

Restaurants and bars that can offer outdoor seating to customers will also be permitted to open on May 15. Unlike other states, the restaurant working group placed no distinction between restaurants and bars, with the primary consideration being the layout of the establishment. Restaurants and bars offering outdoor dining or drinking will be required to provide tables or seating arrangements that comply with current social distancing requirements. These requirements include spacing chairs and tables at least 6 feet apart for separate parties or providing physical barriers between groups, which may include booth-backs, plexiglass or other physical barriers. Open, common areas where customers are permitted to stand and congregate are not permitted, as there is no way to ensure social distancing occurs. Customers may be required to wait in their car until their table is ready and queue lines shall ensure that customers are spaced 6 feet apart.

Restaurant and bar employees will be required to wear masks or face coverings, unless their individual job makes wearing a mask a safety hazard, such as a cook operating a hot grill or fryer.

Individual restaurants and bars are permitted to require customers to wear masks or facial coverings. Governor DeWine acknowledged that customers cannot eat while wearing masks, but opined that restaurants may require patrons to wear a mask while moving about the restaurant.

Restaurants, bars and personal care businesses will have signage posted prominently in the entry way of the business advising customers of the symptoms of COVID-19 and requesting those with positive symptoms to stay home.

May 21: Restaurants and bars offering inside dining options to customers may open. Identical to the outdoor dining requirements, restaurants and bars are required to provide seating or tables that comply with social distancing requirements. Tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart or physical barriers must be placed between groups. Open, common areas where customers can congregate are not permitted. Masks will be required for employees, unless there is a safety risk, and businesses will have the option to require facial coverings for patrons. Queues must comply with social distancing and customers may be required to wait for their table in their vehicles.

Governor DeWine also announced that as of May 12, when most retail will be permitted to re-open in Ohio, roughly 89% of the private economy will be back in business.

The Department of Health’s “Responsible Protocol” for all businesses, previously announced, will be required of the restaurant and personal care businesses opening:

1. Require face coverings for employees and recommend them for clients/customers at all times.

2. Conduct daily health assessments by employers and employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty.”

3. Maintain good hygiene at all times – hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.

4. Clean and sanitize workplaces throughout the workday, between shifts, and at closing.

5. Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. This protocol provides a rule of thumb – limit capacity at 50% of fire code limits and plan appointments to limit congestion.

When a business detects a COVID-19 infection (customer or employee), they are to immediately report the infection to the local health district and work with the health department on contact tracing. After reporting, shut down the shop/floor for deep sanitation and professional cleaning. Consult with the local health department in reopening.

Whether your business has been open or is reopening, you should consult with professionals to make sure you are operating it safely and lawfully. Information on the protocol for your particular business segment can also be found at: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio/Sector-Specific-Operating-Requirements/

Contributing Attorneys:
Benjamin A. Mazer
Marc L. Fleischauer
David P. Pierce

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. 

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