COLUMBUS -- It was not announced at Thursday afternoon's daily press briefing, but the action taken later that evening should come as no surprise to those following along during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Amy Acton, the state's health director, issued a 14-page, modified stay-at-home order Thursday night that gradually allows parts of the state's economy to reopen -- while ordering people to stay at home and avoid group gatherings.
The new order runs through May 29 and comes on a day that initial unemployment claims topped the 1 million mark since the pandemic began. Acton's previous order was due to expire on Friday.
Acton's order was "to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the State of Ohio." As per her previous order, Acton cites Ohio Revised Code 3701.13 as the authority for her action.
That staute, first approved by state lawmakers in 2004, gives the department of health "supervision of all matters relating to the preservation of the life and health of the people and have ultimate authority in matters of quarantine and isolation, which it may declare and enforce, when neither exists, and modify, relax, or abolish, when either has been established."
On Thursday morning, Richland County elected officials expressed frustration and disappointment with the state's frequently changing requirements as it begins to re-open an economy shuttered by COVID-19.
Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John pointed out during a conference call-meeting that the state's requirements have changed and will likely change again.
"The state legislature has outlined its own plan and they are back in session next week. To think all three branches of government are on the same page ... it doesn't appear they are," John said.
"I am not holding my breath that this isn't going to change tomorrow or next week. We are spending a lot of time on the local level to make plans that are changed the next week," she said.
Per Acton's order, beginning today, medical providers, including dentists, can resume non-essential surgeries and procedures.
On Monday, manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses can reopen. General office environments can also reopen. However, allowing employees to work from home is strongly encouraged.
Retail stores in Ohio can reopen on May 12. Stores that restrict their operations to curbside pickup, delivery or appointment-only can reopen on May 1. The number of customers is limited to 10 at a time.
All workers must wear masks or face coverings. Those coverings are encouraged, but not required, for customers.
Employers must comply with steps to ensure cleanliness and social distancing if they choose to reopen.
Acton's new order continues the closure of bars, restaurants, salons and gyms/fitness centers. It also continues the prohibition of sporting events and gatherings of more than 10 people.