During Wednesday’s Coronavirus Press Briefing, Governor Mike DeWine announced that face coverings will become mandatory in all 88 counties across the State of Ohio beginning Thursday, July 23, 2020, at 6:00 pm. Previously, the Governor resisted implementation of a state-wide mandate, instead opting for a county by county approach that required all counties designated a “Red Alert Level 3” or higher to mandate face masks in public starting at 6:00pm on July 17th.
While the Governor signaled optimism on Wednesday regarding the positive effects a county by county approach has had in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, he believes that “requiring masks statewide will make a significant difference and will be key to making sure other counties do not progress to a higher level of increased spread”.
In an Executive Order, the Governor outlined the major provisions of the mandate which include the requirement that masks must be worn by all individuals older than 10 years of age:
- At an indoor location that is not a residence;
- Outdoors, when unable to maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their family/household; or
- Waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, car service, or a ridesharing vehicle. This does not apply to private or rental vehicles where members of a family/household are sharing a vehicle.
The requirement of wearing a mask does not apply to certain situations, including but are not limited to:
- Individuals who are alone in an enclosed space, such as an office, or in lieu of an enclosed space, the individual is separated by at least six feet in all directions from all other individuals, and in either case, space is not intended for use or access by the public;
- In an industrial or manufacturing facility where employees are separated by at least six feet in all directions, or by a barrier in a manufacturing line or work area;
- Individuals with a medical condition or a disability or those communicating with someone with a medical condition or disability;
- Those actively exercising or playing sports;
- Those officiating at religious services;
- Those actively involved in public safety; and
- Those actively eating or drinking.
In addition, facial coverings are not required in workplaces where they are prohibited by law, industry standards, or regulations.
For most Ohio businesses, the state-wide mask mandate is nothing new. Facial coverings have already been required for most employees in the workplace under the Governor’s “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan released in April. The new order supplements rather than displaces the “Responsible Restart Ohio” plan and will have little impact on employers currently following the recommended best practices.
In addition to the state-wide mask mandate, the Governor announced a travel advisory for all individuals coming into Ohio from states and territories reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15% or higher based on a 7-day rolling average. Currently on the list are COVID-19 hotspots like Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona. Similar to the CDC’s recommended 14-day self-quarantine for individuals returning from international travel, individuals either returning home to Ohio or traveling into Ohio from a hotspot are recommended but not required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. Accordingly, any employer requiring work-related travel to a hotspot destination may consider advising their employees to self-quarantine upon their return to the state. Because the travel advisory is merely a recommendation, any subsequent quarantine will not satisfy the first prong for paid emergency sick leave under the FFCRA because it is not the result of a “state quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19”. Employers may also impose their own quarantine requirement on employees who engage in personal/leisure travel to a hotspot.
Employers should remain vigilant and aware of the conditions unique to their workplace in order to ensure compliance with the state-wide mandate, and to be cognizant of the travel recommendation. We encourage you to reach out to any of our KWW professionals with any questions you may have about these or any other workplace related inquiries.
The K|W|W Team