Ohio Business Leaders Support ‘Stay-at-Home’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — For at least two weeks, business as usual will cease in Ohio as Gov. Mike DeWine’s Stay-at-Home order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

The order will remain in effect until April 6 and requires all Ohioans who don’t work for an essential business to stay at home, unless otherwise engaged in an essential activity, such as seeking medical care, shopping for groceries or taking a walk. Anyone who can work from home is encouraged to do so.

For the most part, the intent behind the order issued Sunday isn’t much different from what the DeWine administration has encouraged for the last week or so, with regard to social distancing, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and practicing good hygiene during the coronavirus pandemic. The difference, however, is that the Stay at Home order can be enforced by local health departments and law enforcement.

That doesn’t mean the order is meant to be punitive, DeWine said during his daily coronavirus update Sunday afternoon. According to frequently asked questions about the order posted at Coronavirus.ohio.gov, law enforcement officials “will not stop residents who are on their way to or from work or who are out for necessities like going to the pharmacy or getting groceries, or just taking a walk. People gathering in any size group may be asked to physically distance themselves or go home. Ohioans should abstain from all nonessential activities.”

“You still can take care of your neighbor. You still can take care of your mom, dad or child,” DeWine said.

Essential businesses will maintain operating hours, however, might not offer a full complement of services. Huntington Bank drive-thru branches will continue during normal business hours, but branches located within retailers and branches without drive-thru teller windows are temporarily closed.

“With Stay at Home orders being issued in your state, we’d like to reassure you that Huntington branches have been designated as essential in the communities we serve,” Andrew Harmening, senior vice president, consumer and business banking director, said in a statement. “Additionally, customers can make an appointment to meet with a banker by appointment only.”

The full details of the order, signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, can be read here. Initial response from industry leaders has been positive.

“Our members have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep their employees safe, instituting work-from-home policies when possible and ensuring proper CDC safety protocols outlined by Dr. Amy Acton are being strictly followed,” Pat Tiberi, president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, said in a prepared statement. “While we regret the idling of any business, anywhere, or at any time, we believe the DeWine-Husted Administration has gone to great lengths to ensure this order strikes the appropriate balance between protecting the public’s health and the well-being of Ohio’s economy.”

The nonprofit is comprised of CEOs from some of the largest companies in Ohio, including Akron Children’s Hospital, American Electric Power, Anthem, Cintas, Cleveland Clinic, First Energy, GE, Smucker’s, Procter & Gamble and Deloitte, among others. It’s one of the groups that the administration has met with regularly when making some of the decisions affecting Ohio business, affirmed Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

“We do not do these things in isolation,” Husted said. “We may not be physically together with people, but we consult with business, labor, the not-for-profit community, all kinds of advocates to develop the policies that the governor is taking action on.”

The Stay at Home order also has received the support of the National Federation for Independent Business, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Council-Retail Merchants and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

“Ohio’s manufacturers are either making the products that will see us through this crisis or are part of the critical supply chain for those products. This supply chain is vital to those who make pharmaceuticals, medical devices, disinfectants, protective equipment, food products, and many more goods we need every day,” said the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association’s Jamie Karl in a statement. “Some states have mistakenly or inadvertently limited supply chains by crafting orders that were too restrictive, which created confusion and required subsequent revisions. Ohio is taking a more sensible route by ensuring that the production of final products, components, and all aspects of critical supply lines are not interrupted.”

While working with the DeWine administration, the Farm Bureau has emphasized the importance of not disrupting the food system and the role agriculture plays in that system.

“One of the keys to winning this fight against the coronavirus is ensuring reliable agriculture and food systems for the short and long term,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We appreciate the governor reaching out to Ohio Farm Bureau and the agricultural industry to seek our input on what is best for Ohio’s food and agricultural community and businesses as he takes additional actions. He fully recognizes that all components of Ohio’s food system are essential services. Gov. DeWine’s use of the Department of Homeland Security guidance as well as other good models will allow farmers, processors, truckers and everyone who keeps the food shelves stocked to continue to work. The governor’s recognition of agriculture as an essential service should give consumers throughout Ohio peace of mind when it comes to our healthy, safe and affordable food supply.”

In an effort to support small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the state has rolled out Coronavirus.oh.gov/businesshelp to provide a single location for resources and information business owners can use to help their companies and their employees, Husted said.

In a letter to the business community of the Mahoning Valley, The Business Journal is calling on regional business and community leaders and small-business owners to share how they are leading by example. As a news organization, The Business Journal is deemed an essential business and has ramped up coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on the community .

“Local media is an important extension of the communications and response plan to fight this virus, and as such is designated an essential business,” said Publisher Andrea Wood and CEO Jeff Leo Herrman. “Our office in downtown Youngstown remains open and our staff is working harder than ever. Because most of our employees have individual offices, we are able to practice social distancing. Still, to ensure that we maintain full operations, certain staff members have been assigned to work from home, and others have elected to do so.”

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Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.