Presently, there are approximately a dozen counties in Ohio which are under the Governor’s mask order. This order is active in “code red” counties – those who are experiencing a high level of COVID-19 cases. The Governor has indicated that obtaining compliance with the order, rather than penalizing offenders, is the primary goal. However, if compliance cannot be achieved through a warning, a misdemeanor citation and summons can be issued. A violation of the Governor’s mask order is currently set as a criminal misdemeanor of the second degree, carrying up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $ 750 fine. These criminal penalties stand in stark contrast to some local city orders requiring masks. For example, the City of Cleveland has a mask order that is very similar to the Governor’s order. However, the City of Cleveland mask order requires a warning before a citation can be issued. Even if a citation is issued, the penalties are civil in nature – a $ 25 fine for individuals, and a $ 1000 fine for businesses on a first violation, and a $ 3000 fine for businesses with subsequent violations.
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