The Ohio Chamber of Commerce
COVID-19 BUSINESS RESOURCES

This page serves to be central hub for Ohio business owners to view current temporary restrictions, available resources to help curb the COVID-19 impact on your business and pending legislation addressing COVID-19 and aiming to provide additional relief to businesses.

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

Page last updated: 5/29/20

Responsible Restart Ohio

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:

  • Manufacturing
  • Distrubution
  • Construction
  • General Office Environments

The follow industries can re-open on May 12:

  • Consumer, Retail & Services

The following industries can re-open on May 15:

  • Personal Appearance & Beauty Salons
  • Restaurants & Bars for outside dining

The following industries can re-open on May 21:

  • Restaurants & Bars for inside dining
  • Campgrounds

The following can re-open on May 26:

  • All Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles locations
  • Pools
  • Gyms & Fitness Centers

The following can re-open on May 31:

  • Childcare Centers
  • Day Camps

Gov. DeWine released the following guidance on the policies and protocols these employers must follow in order to remain open.

Also, important face mask guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health can be found here and here.

The Stay Safe Order 

  • All businesses and operations following workplace safety standards are permitted to reopen unless prohibited by the order. Businesses and other entities that must remain closed are:
    • All K-12 schools
    • Vocational Habitation Services in a Congregate Setting
    • Senior Centers
    • Child Care Services
    • Entertainment and Recreation Centers
    • Gymnasiums
  • Prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people that occur outside a single home.
  • Employers must allow all individuals coming into their place of business to use facial coverings, including employees, customers and vendors unless the facial covering poses a specific health, safety or security risk.
  • Employers must require all employees to wear a facial covering unless an employee is working alone in an assigned workspace or there is a functional reason why the facial covering cannot be worn including safety and health concerns.
  • Uses the Dispute Resolution Commission to review and make determinations as to what businesses are essential when health departments are applying the order differently to similarly situated businesses.
  • The Stay Safe Order is in effect through 11:59 p.m. on May 29, 2020.

Ohioans Helping Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory

  • On May 19, Gov. DeWine announced the recession of portions of his Stay Safe Order. Under the Health Advisory, Ohioans no longer must remain at home, and the travel restrictions have been lifted for all individuals except those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have a probable diagnosis of COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Unemployment Compensation

  • Employers can now use the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' online portal to report individuals who decline to return to work.

Business Restart Kits

  • The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce is offering employers restart kits with enough supplies to last two weeks for employers with 25 or fewer employees. These kits include hand sanitizer, disinfectant and face masks. More information about the kits can be found here.

CDC Re-Opening Flow Chart

  • To help employers decide when they are ready to bring employees back to the office, the CDC recently released a flow chart to help employers answer this important question.

Active Ohio Executive Orders

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.

State of Emergency Declared

  • Declares a state of emergency across Ohio in order to protect the well-being of Ohioans from the dangerous effects of COVID-19.

Requiring All Ohioans Stay at Home 

  • All individuals must stay at home except for exempted activities which include activities for a person’s health or safety, the care of others, outside activities, obtaining necessary supplies or services, and to perforcertain types of work. 
  • All businesses must cease operations unless employees are working from home, the business is considered an essential business, or for the performance of minimum basic operations. 
  • Essential businesses and services that will remain open includes hospitals, stores that sell groceries and medicine, restaurants for off-site consumption, and financial and insurance institutions. The list of all essential businesses and services that may remain open are located in Section 12 of the order. The “CISA List”, item “a” in Section 12, can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s COVID-19 Essential Workers Memo.
  • Minimum basic operations include activities necessary to maintain the value of a business’s inventory, the condition of the business's physical location, and the processing of employee payroll or benefits. 
  • Mandates that employers allow as many employees as possible to work from home 
  • Prohibits any gathering of over 10 individuals
  • Creates a Dispute Resolution Commission to review and make determinations as to what businesses are essential when health departments are applying the order differently to similarly situated businesses
  • Mandates stores selling groceries and medicine determine and enforce a maximum number of people allowed inside at once
  • The Stay At Home Order is in effect through 11:59 p.m. on May 1, 2020 

Ohio Department of Health has issued additional guidance on what is an essential business for certain industries which are listed below:

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 

Prohibiting In-Person Dining at Restaurants and Bars

  • Restricts the purchase of food, beverages and alcohol at restaurants and bars to carry-out and delivery orders only
  • Restriction of on-site consumption is in effect indefinitely

Closure of all K-12 Schools

  • On March 30, Gov. DeWine announced extension of K-12 school closures through June 30, 2020.
  • It is up to the administration at each school to determine access to the building for teachers and other staff

Limiting of Mass Gatherings

  • This order has been superseded by the Stay At Home Public Health Order announced on March 22nd that limits all mass gatherings over 10 individuals. 
  • Ban does not include typical office environments, retail or grocery stores, factories, airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and athletic events without spectators
  • Order is in effect until it is rescinded, or the state of emergency is lifted

Special Health Insurance Rules

  • Maintains health insurance coverage for workers who have had their work hours reduced if the employee is currently eligible for coverage through their employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Payment of premiums may be deferred interest free for up to 60 calendar days.
  • Creates special open enrollment period for employees who lose coverage to allow them to get a new policy from the federal healthcare marketplace or from another insurer.
  • This order is in effect until the expiration of the governor's state of emergency.

Rent & Mortgage Payments

  • Lenders have been asked to suspend rent payments owed by small businesses for at least 90 days
  • Lenders have been asked to provide forbearances on mortgage payments owed by small businesses for at least 90 days
  • Landlords have been asked to put in place a moratorium on evictions for small businesses of at least 90 days

Cancellation of all Non-essential Surgeries

  • To preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital capacity and healthcare resources all non-essential or elective surgeries are canceled, and healthcare providers must remove non-essential individuals from procedure rooms and patient care areas.
  • Each hospital or healthcare provider is responsible for establishing internal procedures to comply with the order.
  • This order is in effect until it is rescinded or the state of emergency is lifted.

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.

Closure of Beauty Salons and Tattoo Parlors

  • On March 18, Gov. Mike DeWine announced he will be issuing an executive order to close all spas, tattoo parlors, barber shops and beauty salons effective at the close of businesses on March 18.

Closure of Bureau of Motor Vehicles (Policy Directive from Dept. of Public Safety)

  • On March 18, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the closure of the majority of Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations effective at the close of business on March 18. A list of the BMV locations that remain open can be found here.

Limiting Sale of Alcohol in Some Counties

  • The sale of spirituous liquor will be restricted to Ohio residents in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont County.

Unemployment Compensation System Expansion

Under Gov. Mike DeWine's Executive Order 2020-03D, some substantial but temporary changes were made to Ohio's Unemployment Comp System:

  • Allows for individuals ordered to self-quarantine by a medical professional or their employer to be eligible for unemployment compensation;
  • Eliminates the one-week waiting period and work search requirements;
  • Holds harmless an employer's experience rating due to layoffs resulting from the coronavirus; and
  • Waives employer penalties for late reporting and payment of next quarter's unemployment compensation contributions.

SharedWork Ohio Program

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:

  • Have at least two affected employees that do not work on a seasonal, temporary or intermittent basis;
  • Are current on all Ohio unemployment insurance reporting, contributions, reimbursements, interest and penalties due;
  • Agree to the program requirements.

More information on SharedWork Ohio, including employer FAQ, can be found on their website.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

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.

Loan Amounts and Use

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.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program

UPDATED 4/20/20: The Paycheck Protection Program funds are currently depleted, pending additional funding approval by Congress.

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.

 

Tax Payment Deadline Extension

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:

  • The filing deadline for Ohio individual income tax, the school district income tax, the pass-through entity tax and centrally filed municipal net profit tax was extended to match the new federal tax deadline of July 15, 2020.
  • The first and second quarterly payments, normally scheduled for April 15 and June 15 for most taxpayers, have both been extended to July 15. This applies to individuals, estates, trusts and certain businesses making estimated payments on a quarterly basis.
  • These extensions come without penalty and without the attachment of interest.

Full tax payment relief details can be found on the IRS info page

Office of Small Business Relief

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.

ODOT Essential Goods Weight Limit Waiver

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.

Workers' Compensation & Industrial Commission

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.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

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.

COVID-19 Legislation Affecting Business

 

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act ("Phase 3") 

A detailed summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of all the provisions listed below can be found here.

  • Small Business "Paycheck Protection Program"
  • Additional Small Business Provisions
  • Changes to SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)
  • Loan Programs and Credit Facilities
  • Business Tax Provisions
  • Pension and Employee Benefit Requirements
  • Banking Relief, Mortgage Forbearance and Credit Reporting
  • Payments and Relief for Individuals
  • Unemployment Programs
  • Work Sharing Programs
  • Paid Leave Changes
  • Health Care Provisions
  • Student Loans
  • Airline Industry Support
  • State and Local Aid
  • Appropriations

H.R. 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Federal, enacted 3.18.20) ("Phase 2")

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:

  • Paid job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Paid sick leave for employees for 14 days
  • Authorizes 100% employer tax credit equal to the amount employers pay in emergency FMLA Benefits or paid sick leave under the Act

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.

Ohio House Bill 197

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:

  • Extending the validity of state issued licenses including drivers' licenses
  • Codifying the removal of work search requirements and the waiting week for unemployment compensation
  • Expanding unemployment compensation eligibility to individuals who have been ordered to quarantine due to the coronavirus
  • Tolling the statue of limitations for all civil, criminal and administrative claims
  • Moving the state tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020
  • Waiving interest payments for taxes during the state of emergency
  • Suspending the 20-day municipal tax rule for employees working from home

The full list of temporary policy changes in HB 197 can be found here.

TechCred Program

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.

The current application period is open through March 31 on TechCred.Ohio.Gov. If a business has questions, email Workforce@OWT.Ohio.Gov.

Ohio Department of Health Employee Screening Guidelines

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.

COVID-19 Checklist Antibody Test Kits

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.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Recommended Strategies for Businesses

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Separate sick employees
  • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning
  • Advise employees before traveling to check the CDC Traveler's Health Notice and take other steps to prevent illness

The CDC recommends businesses to plan to implement additional strategies in the case of a widespread, or extended work stoppage. Those guidelines and the above listed strategies can also be found here.

The CDC has also released guidance on best practices essential businesses can use when an employee has suspected exposure to the coronavirus.

Business Interruption Insurance

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.)

Comprehensive Legal FAQs for Employers on COVID-19

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:

 

Guidelines from the Cleveland Clinic

The following guidelines were provided by the Cleveland Clinic:

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.

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