Ohio Has Guidelines, But Businesses Define "Essential"

Mar 25, 2020

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted

While many businesses have been closed by state order in the last 10 days, "essential" businesses have been able to remain open.  State officials are asking businesses to self-police.

The "Stay at Home" order loosely defined essential businesses as those that provide food, medicine and medical care, public utilities, gasoline and information or technology, but deliberately avoids attempts at a definitive list.  Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted says businesses that believe they are essential need to create their own documentation.

"You do not need a letter, a certification, or a clearance that would come from us or be issued to you by anyone else.  But it is recomended that you create a document with the justifications on how you deem yourself as an essential business. and how you are following the safe workplace order which is Item #18 in that order.  It's incredibly important for you to go through that checklist to make sure that you are providing a safe workplace."

Requirements for a safe workplace include allowing for proper distancing between employees, rigorous cleaning of workplaces, providing sanitizing products, providing seperate hours or access for vulnerable populations, and giving online information on hours and services.  

Husted warned non-essential businesses to not try and and use this loophole to stay open  and turn a profit.

"If you're violating this, you will get called on it.  Either by a competitor, an employer, a neighbor - somebody will call you out.  And you need to make sure that you're doing this the right way so that you can justify your operations.  Because we will though this process need to be fair."

Governor DeWine says Ohio's definition of "essential" was drawn from the Department of Homeland Security's document on Critical Infrastructure Workforce.