Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: As of May 20, officials in Ohio, US, have eased movement restrictions and announced the lifting of additional business restrictions.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Toledo, Ohio
  • Lima, Ohio
  • Youngstown, Ohio
  • Canton, Ohio

This alert began 20 May 2020 20:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Ohio (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
As of May 20, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has eased movement restrictions and announced the lifting of additional restrictions in businesses and on activities between May 21-31, as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities replaced an order that required residents to stay at home with a health advisory that strongly recommends individuals, especially those 65 years and older and those with underlying health conditions, to remain at home as much as possible. The new instructions also remove the requirement for travelers entering Ohio from another US state to self-quarantine and it allows for nonessential travel within the state, although authorities still do not encourage it. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned.

Officials have also announced the dates for the reopening of additional businesses and activities, as long as they follow safety and health protocols:

  • May 21: Campgrounds
  • May 22: Horse racing, without spectators
  • May 26: Gyms and fitness centers; noncontact or limited-contact sports leagues; public and club pools; and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • May 31: Childcare centers


Ohio authorities had previously allowed for multiple businesses and services to reopen according to the following schedule:

  • Since May 1: Nonurgent medical and dental procedures (i.e., those requiring no overnight stay at a medical facility)
  • Since May 4: Manufacturing, distribution, and construction businesses, as well as general offices
  • Since May 12: Consumer and retail businesses
  • Since May 15: Restaurants and bars only for outdoor dining, personal care businesses, including barbershops, hair salons, and tanning facilities
  • Since May 21: Dine-in services at restaurants and bars


All businesses must follow safety guidelines, including requiring all employees to wear protective facemasks and recommending customers do the same; conducting evaluations of workers' health; enhancing sanitation procedures; limiting the number of persons allowed in establishments at a given time; staggering shifts; and maintaining social distancing. Employers should continue to encourage employees to work from home as much as possible. Other businesses, including entertainment venues, will remain closed until further notice. In-person lessons at schools also remain canceled. Essential businesses may continue to operate, including grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations, banks, and companies in the transport, media, utilities, and security industries.

Transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the order at short notice, depending on disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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