On July 8, 2020, the Ohio Governor issued an order requiring masks in seven counties with spiking COVID-19 cases. The order requires a mask to be worn in any indoor location that is not a residence (which means stores, offices, businesses and public buildings); outdoors – when social distancing is impractical; and when using public transportation, taxi service or ride sharing services. The order does set forth some exceptions where masks are NOT required: for persons under 10 years old; persons with medical conditions that restrict breathing; person with mental health conditions; persons engaged in exercise at gyms where social distancing is possible; persons who work in public safety (police, fire, EMS); and persons actively consuming food or beverage at a restaurant or a bar. The order is to be enforced by the department of health. However, the order does NOT specify penalties for violators. Will it be a civil penalty (a fine) or a criminal penalty (possible jail time)? It appears that the order is designed to encourage the wearing of masks, rather than seeking to punish those who fail to do so. This order is sure to cause some backlash, as already one southern Ohio county sheriff has announced that his department will not be actively enforcing the order.
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