March 23, 2020
Here is the Ohio Stay-at-Home order.
Read it carefully, as it is not as broad as the reports of today’s press conference might lead you to believe.
For example, as it relates to Finney Law Firm, and Ivy Pointe Title, law firms, title companies, Realtors, insurance companies and lenders are all deemed essential and thus the purchase and sale of real estate can continue unless the closing of auditor’s and Recorder’s office (in Ohio) and Clerk’s offices (in Kentucky) cause title to become uninsurable.
What the order says
The meat of the order is:
All businesses and operations in the State except Essential Businesses and Operations as defined below, are required to cease all business activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined below.
Moreover, all Essential Businesses and Operations are encouraged to remain open. In other words, unless you are forced to be closed, they want you to continue operating and presumably at full strength.
But the exceptions are incredibly broad
Then the order goes on to except or define as Essential Businesses and Operations, which is virtually everyone:
- Working from home and home-based businesses
- Food service providers (production, distribution, fulfillment, and storage)
- The construction industry
- Building management and maintenance
- Airport operations
- The entire utility industry
- The oil and gas industry
- Distribution centers
- Garbage collectors
- Computer and internet-related companies
- All governmental functions
- Grocery stores and pharmacies
- Food, beverage and marijuana production (including farming, manufacturing, processing, and cultivating)
- Animal shelters, rescues and kennels
- Religious facilities
- Media and news companies
- Other first amendment speech activities, which would include activities relating to the primary and general elections, protests, and rallies.
- Hardware stores and stores selling HVAC, plumbing or electrical equipment and materials
- tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, janitors, exterminators, painters and HVAC repairmen
- Everyone involved in the postal or shipping industry
- Schools that already have not been ordered closed as long as 6-feet of distance is maintained
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Restaurants for carryout food only
- All means of transportation
- Home-based healthcare
- Professional services such as law, insurance, title and real estate
- Banks and other lending institutions
- Labor union functions
- Hotels and motels
- Funeral services
It also allows for travel:
- To visit healthcare providers;
- To obtain services from Human Service Operations, which include nursing homes, day cares, residential facilities for those with developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues, vocational services, rehabilitation services, adoption agencies, and those providing services to the indigent
- To shop
- To go to and from Essential Businesses and Operations
There is no enforcement mechanism for the Order, and indeed the Governor said as much in today’s press conference that they don’t intend to put anyone in jail for violating the Order. Thus, it is aspirational in nature, or perhaps just intended to get everyone’s attention to stop interacting with others as much as possible.
Certainly, the Governor intended something by the order, but given the incredibly broad exceptions, and the lack of any intent to enforce it, it appears to be an attempt to educate the public on the dangers of work and social interactions more than a heavy hand telling Ohio citizens what they can and cannot do in their work life.
Call our any of attorneys if we can advise you on COVID-19-related developments.