Ohio Joins Growing List of States Rescinding Mask Orders (US)
As we blogged about here, the CDC announced on May 13, 2021 that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask or practice social distancing except in certain circumstances, including when state or local orders still require compliance with these COVID-19 mitigation measures. As a result, a number of state and local health departments have been scrambling to update or rescind orders containing capacity restrictions and other mandates relating to mask wearing, social distancing, and remote working.
On May 17, 2021, the Ohio Department of Health Director issued a Second Amended Order for Social Distancing, Facial Coverings and Non-Congregating (the “Order”). In the Order, Director McCloud references Ohio Governor DeWine’s recent announcement that nearly all Ohio health orders will be rescinded on June 2, 2021. In the interim, the Order clarifies that fully vaccinated individuals “can resume activities” without wearing a mask, except on planes, trains, buses, and other forms of public transportation. Individuals not fully vaccinated must still wear masks in any indoor setting that is not a residence, any outdoor setting where social distancing is not possible, and in public transportation, taxi, car service, and ride sharing settings. As was the case under Ohio’s previous mask orders, unvaccinated individuals still do not need to wear masks when alone in an enclosed space not open to the public (such as an office), while eating, or when wearing a mask would be dangerous based on a medical condition, among other exceptions. The Order also clarifies that unvaccinated individuals must comply with social distancing requirements, including maintaining at least six feet of distance from other individuals and avoiding groups of more than ten.
The Order clarifies that event organizers should discourage individuals not fully vaccinated from standing or sitting close together. Indoor venues with fixed seating may allow spectators, up to 25% capacity. Outdoor facilities do not face any capacity limitations. For both indoor and outdoor venues, social distancing should be maintained and groups should be limited to ten or fewer, unless all parties are fully vaccinated.
Ohio businesses are directed to clearly post signage at all entrances requiring persons not fully vaccinated to wear a mask. Ohio-compliant posters and signs will be made available here. Restaurants and bars are still directed to require patrons to be seated while eating or drinking, and tables should be distanced or separated by physical barriers, with no more than 10 people per table.
Per the Order, Ohio businesses can continue to require mitigation measures such as mandatory masking and social distancing for employees regardless of vaccination status.
With the tangled web of state, local, and federal guidance and orders relating to mask wearing and other COVID-19 protective measures, we recommend that employers work with counsel in preparing any contemplated return-to-work or “masks optional” policies.