As Ohio gradually reopens, leaving home for something nonessential or gathering for a party could still yield a $750 fine and 90 days in jail, according to a public health order issued this week.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed a new 14-page order that extends the stay at home rules through 11:59 p.m. May 29.
“All persons may leave their homes or place of residence only to participate in activities, businesses or operations permitted in this order,” it says.
Public or private gatherings of any number of people — outside their household group or family — are prohibited, according to the order. Exceptions include wedding ceremonies, funerals, First Amendment protected speech and religious gatherings.
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State law gives Acton substantial powers when it comes to quarantine and isolation. ODH as well as local health districts can rely on a long list of authorities, including police officers, to enforce public health orders. Violations are a minor misdemeanor.
Ohio is allowing medical, dental and veterinarian offices to open May 1; manufacturing, distribution, construction and general office businesses to reopen May 4; retail to reopen May 12. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, food manufacturers, media outlets and hospitals, did not close.
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So, when are you allowed to leave home?
Generally it’s limited to when you’re working at, traveling to or patronizing something that is permitted to be open; when you’re outdoors for exercise; or you’re traveling to care for a child, pet or vulnerable person.
And when you’re outside your home, social distancing should be practiced: maintain six feet from other people who aren’t members of your household; frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; covering coughs or sneezes; and not shaking hands, the order says. Masks or facial coverings are strongly encouraged and in some cases will be required.
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The order also advises people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to stay home as much as possible except for medical care. Large swaths of Ohioans are at high risk, including people who are elderly, obese, smokers, immune compromised, diabetic or have lung, heart, kidney or liver conditions.
The following segments remain closed until further notice: schools, child care, restaurants and bars, personal care businesses such as hair salons, gyms, pools, entertainment venues, gambling venues, theaters, campgrounds, amusement parks, museums, zoos and other facilities.
Businesses and entities that are allowed to open must comply with checklists: have employees wear masks; designate six-foot distances to space out workers and customers; have hand sanitizer available; provide separate operating hours for vulnerable populations; actively encourage sick employees to stay home; and frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as door handles, counter tops and work stations.