Statewide Mask Order Includes Additional Exceptions — The statewide mask-wearing requirement announced on July 22 by Governor DeWine was officially issued as a Director’s Order by Lance Himes, Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health on July 23, 2020.
The Director's Order requires a mask to be worn in any indoor location that is not a residence, when outdoors and unable to maintain a 6-foot distance from non-family members, and when using or operating public transportation.
The Director's Order provides numerous exceptions to the mask requirement, including two new exceptions relating to K-12 schools, child care centers and other programs for youth, as well as in-home aides. It also retains the manufacturing facility exception that was added in a July 17 Addendum to the July 8 order requiring masks in certain high-risk counties. The manufacturing facility exception is as follows:
“The requirement to wear a facial covering does not apply when . . . in an industrial or manufacturing facility, employees are separated by at least six feet in all directions, or by a barrier in a manufacturing line or work area.”
Businesses are advised to study the full list of exceptions to determine when the mask requirement does and does not apply to their own circumstances.
Support for Small Businesses/Non-Profit Organizations — New funding has been approved by Congress for the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to assist small businesses, small agricultural co-ops, small aquaculture businesses, as well as private non-profit organizations. Impacted small business owners and qualifying non-profits can apply for up to $2 million in low interest loans with up to 30-year repayment terms. The documents required in order to apply include the most recent federal income tax return for the applicant, and IRS form 4506-T. The online application is located at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance, or businesses may request a mail application by calling 1-800-659-2955.
Ohio also has 26 Small Business Development Centers located across the state. These centers are currently holding meetings by telephone or virtual conferencing. The staff at these centers “have their ears to the ground” and understand what Ohio’s small businesses are experiencing in these troubled times. They are a resource for counseling and assistance for small business issues related to the pandemic and the reopening of Ohio’s economy, as well as the typical services helpful to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Additionally, Ohio has 15 Minority Business Assistance Centers spread throughout the state to support the growth and sustainability of minority-owned businesses. These provide additional resources for such businesses as they work to establish or reestablish full-scale operations in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Banking Partnerships to Support Small Business Clients — A partnership has been formed between JobsOhio, Peoples Bank, and First Federal/Home Savings Bank to support small businesses in maintaining operations and payroll, with JobsOhio committing up to $50 million to assist the banks with lending to impacted companies in need of working capital. Local businesses in good standing who might otherwise have difficulty accessing credit due to the pandemic should visit any of the following links for information on how to apply: Peoples Bank: peoplesbancorp.com/coronavirus; First Federal Bank: First-fedbanking.com/COVID-19; Home Savings Bank: Homesavings.com/COVID-19
Health Checklist for Employers — The Ohio Department of Health has provided an informative checklist of advised actions for employers in order to increase employee safety at all levels of interaction if they must report to the workplace. These include: ensuring that sick leave policies are up to date, flexible, and do not punish employees for choosing to remain home; separating employees who appear to have upper respiratory difficulties; and frequent enhanced cleaning of commonly touched surfaces in the workplace. More information can be found at ODH's Coronavirus webpage for employers and employees.
Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation Approves Dividend to Ease Impact of COVID-19 — The Ohio BWC's Board of directors approved to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers this spring. The dividend is approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in the 2018 policy year. Of the total, approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers and approximately $0.2 billion will go to local government taxing districts such as counties, cities, townships, and schools. For more information, click here.
Ohio Department of Taxation Publishes Guidance on COVID-19 Tax Relief — The Department has published guidance relating to the extended deadlines for income tax returns, Amended Sub. HB 197 and . The Department has also provided frequently asked questions. For more information, click here: https://www.tax.ohio.gov/Coronavirus.aspx
Unemployment Benefits – Restrictions Lifted — Individuals totally or partially unemployed, or participating in the SharedWork Ohio Program will not be required to serve a waiting period before receiving unemployment insurance or SharedWork benefits. Benefits paid on these claims will not be charged to the account of the employer who otherwise would have been charged; instead they will be charged to the mutualized account. Work search requirement is waived for those individuals requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. Penalties for late reporting and payments will be waived for employers affected by COVID-19. Employer Resources: ODJFS Notice to Employers; Employee and Other Resources: ODJFS Information;
Ohio Establishes Office of Small Business Relief — Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor John Husted announced the establishment of the Office of Small Business Relief. The Office of Small Business Relief will be focused on identifying and providing direct support to the state's nearly 950,000 small businesses to help during the current public health crisis and to position them for a strong rebound. For more information, click here: https://businesshelp.ohio.gov/
Unemployment Code to Use for Mass Layoffs Related to COVID-19 — All Ohio employers planning a mass layoff or shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic should provide the following mass layoff number: 200180. They should also forward the following link to their employees, who will find there an instructional sheet to speed the processing of unemployment benefits: https://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS00671
Deferral of Workers' Compensation Premiums — The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has announced that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020. At that time, the matter will be reconsidered. Additionally, BWC will not cancel coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of COVID-19. See: BWC Q&A
One-time Liquor Buyback — Not just for St. Patrick's day, bars & restaurants can take advantage of the buyback if they have a temporary (F2) permit for an even scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020. The liquor must have been obtained within 30 days of its return to the agency where it was purchased. See: Liquor Buyback Information.
ODOT Waivers for Hauling Heavy or Oversized Loads of Essential Goods — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will issue waivers for haulers carrying heavy or oversized loads of essential goods. ODOT will also waive the current permit fee for these types of hauls. See: Special Blanket Permit for Haulers
Ohio TechCred — Ohio’s TechCred offers employers up to $2 thousand in rembursement for every technology-focused credential earned by an employee, up to $30 thousand per employer per round. Many of the trainings can be completed online, so this is something employers can require of their employees while they are unable to perform day-to-day duties as a result of the Coronavirus. While the current application period is open through Mar. 31, a new application period will open soon. See: ZHF's Buzz: Third TechCred application Period Open Throughout March and TechCred.Ohio.gov