Ohioans Risk Penalties For Ignoring Coronavirus “Stay-at-Home” Order

Ohio’s Stay-At-Home Order Now In Effect

In response to the new coronavirus, COVID-19, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton issued a “stay-at-home” order for Ohioans that went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on March 23 and will last until at least April 6. Under the order, people can only leave their homes for essential activities, including approved types of work, while all non-essential businesses, such as dine-in restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, social clubs, and many types of retail stores, must remain closed. DeWine also announced restrictions on day care centers, which took effect on March 26 and end April 30.

Ohioans should understand that the order is not merely optional. It can be enforced by law enforcement agencies. Penalties for disregarding the stay-at-home could result in a second degree misdemeanor criminal charge (up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $750), plus possible loss of business licenses, including liquor licenses for restaurants and bars.

Graham & Graham is providing this information to help community members understand the legal implications of the stay-at-home order. For the health and safety of everyone, we encourage you to follow the new guidelines. If you have questions about their legal impact on you or your business, please contact us.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019, caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2, which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces, some of which cause the common cold or more severe, infectious respiratory diseases, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and now, COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include high fever, dry cough, and breathing trouble. Most people develop only mild symptoms, but some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal. If you or someone in your household exhibits any or all of these symptoms, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advises that first you call, not visit, your local doctor or urgent care facility, immediately. Our local healthcare resources will know best how to respond and direct you to appropriate care and testing.

What the Stay-at-Home Order Covers

Ohio law grants the Director of the Department of Health to, “make special orders…for preventing the spread of contagious or infectious diseases.” To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the State of Ohio, Acton issued a stay-at-home order that prohibits certain individual actions and business operations.

  • Individuals: Ohio residents must stay at home or at their place of residence, except to seek medical care, for health and safety, for necessary supplies and services, for outdoor activity, for approved types of work (see below), to take care of others, or for weddings and funerals. When leaving the home to perform essential activities, individuals must follow social distancing requirements. This means maintaining at least six feet from other people, not shaking hands, and frequently washing hands or using hand sanitizer. Gatherings of more than ten people are not permitted.
  • Businesses: The order encourages “essential” businesses and operations to remain open, as long as they comply with social distancing requirements. Businesses that may operate during this time include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, food and beverage manufacturers, media organizations, places of worship, delivery agencies, hardware stores, home service providers (such as electricians and plumbers), some professional services, and transportation providers. Healthcare and public health operations, human services operations, essential infrastructure, and essential government services are also permitted to stay open. Non-essential businesses that have their employees work from home are excluded from the order.

Separately, the governor ordered coronavirus-related restrictions on day care centers. Day cares can still operate but will be required to obtain temporary “pandemic licenses” and limit their occupancy to no more than ten children per room with a single teacher.

“We haven’t faced an enemy like we are facing today in 102 years” since the Spanish flu epidemic,” said DeWine. “We are at war. In time of war, we have to make sacrifices.”

Learn more about how the orders apply to individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others from the Ohio Department of Health here…

Graham & Graham Remains Open

This particular coronavirus has impacted us in ways that didn’t seem possible just a short time ago. But as an essential business, Graham & Graham remains dedicated to each client’s existing case—of all types—during this national emergency period, while taking all recommended health and safety precautions. We are also accepting new cases related to personal injury, social security disability, workers’ compensation, and matters of civil and criminal law. For questions regarding your case or a potential case, please call 1-800-621-8585 or send us a message.

We’ll also continue to provide updates about legal issues that pertain to this unique coronavirus. Previously, we wrote about Ohio unemployment benefits for anyone whose job is affected by COVID-19.

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