The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has the best interest of our members, its employees, partners and guests in mind. We are continually monitoring the impacts of the coronavirus on businesses and our state. We will be updating this site on a regular basis. While our physical office is closed, our staff is working remotely, and we are still here to assist our members. The directory of how to reach our staff members is here.
On November 19, Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed a health order encouraging people to stay at home during specified hours unless they are working or engaged in an essential activity. Individuals within the state must stay at home during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. except for obtaining food, medical care, social services or providing care to others. The order is in effect until December 10. Read the full order here.
On November 11, Gov. DeWine announced the following updates to the masks and social gathering order:
Although most people and businesses have properly followed COVID-19 safety guidelines issued in Ohio’s July 23, 2020, mask order, others are not following the order.
To protect frontline workers and customers, the Ohio Department of Health will reissue Ohio’s mask order and add the following provisions:
Read the Director's Order here.
New Social Gathering Order
Ohio’s April order that limits public events and private gatherings of more than 10 people is still in effect, however, there has been rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals.
To address the tragedies that have resulted from such events, the Ohio Department of Health will issue an order that will place significant new restrictions on these social activities. Specifically, open congregate areas will no longer be permitted to open, and everyone will be required to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks.
Bars, restaurants, and fitness centers may remain open, but this will be reassessed one week from tomorrow for potential closure.
“If the current trend continues and cases keep increasing, we will be forced to make these closures,” said Governor DeWine. “I am very well aware of the burden this will place on employees and owners, but these are places where it is difficult or impossible to maintain mask-wearing, which we know now is the chief way of slowing this virus.”
On July 2, Gov. DeWine introduced the Ohio Public Advisory System –– a color-coded map that indicates the prevalence of COVID-19 by county. The system rates counties on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the highest level. The levels are updated every Thursday. More information is available here.
Below you will find important information and resources released by Gov. DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health on what businesses need to know about re-opening workplaces following the expiration of the Stay-At-Home Order issued on April 2, 2020.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced employers in the following industries can re-open on May 4:
The follow industries can re-open on May 12:
The following industries can re-open on May 15:
The following industries can re-open on May 21:
The following can re-open on May 26:
The following can re-open on May 31:
The following can re-open on June 10:
The following can re-open on June 19:
Find a list below of executive orders from Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that affect employers.
The Ohio Department of Health has issued a fact sheet containing important information on the Dispute Resolution Commission which you can access here.
Clarification from Lt. Gov. Jon Husted -- If you need help understanding the order, please reference the below information:
"Please read the order, it is clear about what it means. I ask that you use common sense. If you see an exemption for your type of business in the order, or if you are part of the supply chain for an "essential business," then you should consider yourself an "essential business" and you can remain open. But if you're not on the list of exemptions, or you are not part of the essential supply chain then consider yourself closed until April 6 at 11:59 pm. And even if you are in an "essential business," you need to follow the health and safety guidelines outlined in this order." - Lt. Gov. Jon Husted
The order is effective from Monday, March 23, 2020 at 11:59pm through 11:59pm on Monday, April 6, 2020.
Note: On April 22, Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, asked all hospitals and out-patient surgery centers to reach out to patients to reassess the need for any postponed surgeries. The full guidance be found here.
The past 16 weeks have been challenging for all Ohioans, including the business community. As Ohio's opportunity agency, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has worked tirelessly to support employers, workers, families and children hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19. Read more in the ODJFS bulletin An Opportunity Agency Focused on Ohio's Recovery.
ODJFS has played a central role in supporting Ohioans during one of the most difficult periods in our history, and they will continue to support employers, employees and families as our state's economy strengthens. Read more in The Road to Ohio's Recovery.
On June 16, Gov. DeWine signed an executive order expanding the definition of "Good Cause" throughout the COVID-19 state of emergency. The executive order can be found here.
Under Gov. Mike DeWine's Executive Order 2020-03D, some substantial but temporary changes were made to Ohio's Unemployment Comp System:
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has the SharedWork Ohio Program, a voluntary layoff aversion program. It allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity.
Ohio employers may apply if they meet the following criteria:
More information on SharedWork Ohio, including employer FAQ, can be found on their website.
The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small businesses, small agricultural co-ops and most private nonprofit organizations. Ohio is now listed as a disaster area for COVID-19 and Ohio businesses are eligible for EIDLs.
These Disaster Loans can be used by businesses to pay for their ordinary and necessary operating expenses. The SBA loan can provide each business up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loan amount is based upon the actual economic injury and a company's financial need.
More information about eligibility and how to apply can be found on the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans homepage.
Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program was created to provide $350 billion in financial assistance to small businesses.
These loans are 100% federally guaranteed to small businesses and may be forgiven if borrowers use the loan to cover qualifying expenses including payroll costs, mortgage or rent payments and utility payments
The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury released additional guidance on the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program which includes the application borrowers will use. Lenders will begin processing applications on April 3, 2020.
More details about the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program can be found here.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department has pushed back both the April 15, 2020 tax filing and payment deadlines by 90 days. This will give businesses and individuals additional time, potentially lessening cash-flow issues that many are facing. Traditional extensions are still available for those needing more time to file a return. Ohio Chamber members should consult their accountants or tax preparers if they have any questions concerning this announcement.
The Ohio Tax Commissioner also put out a statement regarding the postponement of tax deadlines:
Full tax payment relief details can be found on the IRS info page.
On April 7, Lt. Governor Husted announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief housed within the Ohio Development Services Agency. This new office is designed to help Ohio's nearly 950,000 small businesses by administrating federal dollars awarded to the state for small business recovery and relief programs.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is modifying the process for haulers carrying heavy loads of essential goods. Generally, Ohio requires haulers with loads classified as "oversized" to seek advanced permission from ODOT before they are legally allowed to travel in the state. Haulers carrying these essential goods can download and print the permit from their website here.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and Industrial Commission are still open. The Bureau is accepting and making determinations of eligibility on new claims during the state of emergency. They have canceled all Independent Medical Exams and are continuing payments for Temporary Total Disability and Wage Loss through April 30, 2020.
On April 10, the BWC Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Gov. DeWine and Administrator McCloud's recommendation to issue a $1.6 billion rebate to all state fund employers. The amount of each employer's rebate will equal 100 percent of their paid workers' compensation premium between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, and individual employer checks are expected to be delivered by the end of this month. More details about the rebate can be accessed here.
Until further notice, scheduled hearings at the Industrial Commission will take place via telephone, and hearings will be limited to allowances and the issuance or termination of temporary total disability, wage loss and permanent total disability.
On March 21, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced a BWC policy directive that will enable employers to defer workers' compensation premium payments until June 1, 2020. More information about the policy change can be found here.
On March 30, the BWC announced they are waiving all safety and education and training requirements through June 30, 2020 for participants in the Policy Activity Rebate Program, Industry-specific Safety Program, Drug-Free Safety Program, One Claim Program, EM Cap Program and Grow Ohio.
On May 28, Gov. DeWine announced the continued deferral of workers' compensation premiums until Sept. 1, 2020. Under the deferral program, employers can choose to forgo monthly premiums without penalty or lapse of coverage.
For answers to other important workers' compensation questions, go to Ohio's BWC Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions Page.
In response to the threat posed by the coronavirus, OSHA has released guidance on their continued operations and workplace investigations. Under the guidance, OSHA will prioritize workplace investigations where a hospitalization or fatality occurred. Other injuries or complaints will proceed at the discretion of OSHA regional offices and area directors when they believe an on-site investigation is necessary. Read the full OSHA guidance here.
A detailed summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of all the provisions listed below can be found here.
H.R. 6201 contains many provisions designed to help the country combat the coronavirus. For employers, here are the portions of the bill directly impacting you:
A full summary of the legislation from the U.S. Chamber can be found here, and a helpful employer's guide to the paid leave provisions can be found here.
On March 28, the U.S. Dept. of Labor released a frequently asked questions document that addresses many pressing issues facing employers including how to count employees and how to calculate an employee's wage.
On March 25, the Ohio House and Ohio Senate unanimously passed legislation aimed at addressing the issues that have arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic. While all but one of the policy solutions included in the bill are temporary, the legislation enacted several significant changes to Ohio law such as:
The full list of temporary policy changes in HB 197 can be found here.
The TechCred Program can be utilized by Ohio employers to upskill their employees while they may be unable to perform their typical day-to-day duties. Many of these trainings can be completed online.
TechCred offers employers up to $2,000 in reimbursement for every technology-focused credential earned by an employee, up to $30,000 per employer per round. These technology-focused credentials take a year or less to complete and prepare current and future employees for the technology jobs Ohio employers need.
To help protect the public against the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director, Amy Acton, strongly recommend that all employers screen employees each day before work by following these steps.
The Ohio Dept. of Health released a checklist of steps that employers, which remain open under the Stay at Home Order, can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Some companies in Ohio are purchasing serological tests that detect antibodies or proteins found in the blood when the body responds to the virus that causes COVID-19. They plan to use the test on staff, and in some cases, customers. The Ohio Department of Health has issued this checklist for companies purchasing or using such kits.
If an employee has been exposed to COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Health recommends employers the following steps, including sending the individual home immediately and cleaning workplaces and common areas.
Many businesses purchase a general liability insurance policy that may include business interruption (BI) coverage. BI typically covers lost profits and may cover operating expenses, such as rent and utilities. However, most BI policies include specific exclusions for virus, bacteria or communicable diseases, and thus generally will not provide coverage for COVID-19 related losses. More information about BI can be found on the Ohio Department of Insurance's Insurance and Coronavirus COVID-19 resource page. (Choose the "Ohio Business" drop-down menu.)
Ohio Chamber member law firms Squire Patton Boggs and Fisher Phillips have published and maintain a comprehensive guide on legal issues and considerations arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.
These legal resources can be found here:
Disclaimer: The Ohio Chamber of Commerce seeks to provide access to recommendations, regulations, services and expertise to its members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this mission remains constant. Prior to acting, members should consult their own professional advisors for information and counsel specific to the individual and unique situations faced by organizations, individuals and corporations. The opinions, interpretations and recommendations of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce are informational only and should not be relied upon by the recipient as legal or professional advice. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce makes no representations as to the accuracy or reliability of the content contained herein. Users of this information accept any and all risks associated with the use of such information and agree that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has no liability to user.