Who Needs to Wear A Face Mask Under the Responsible RestartOhio Plan?

If you don't yet have a cloth face mask or other face covering, may we suggest you get one...

click to enlarge A stack of cloth face masks - Photo: Vera Davidova
Photo: Vera Davidova
A stack of cloth face masks

UPDATE: In a confusing turn of events, as of Tuesday afternoon, it appears the Ohio Department of Health has removed the language from its slides and specific operating requirements for different sectors regarding the mandatory use of masks. The language now says "recommended." 

They have also updated their "protocols" image to this, which also says "recommended" face coverings instead of the language which appeared earlier today that required face masks (see below).


On Monday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine released his timeline for when certain businesses can begin to reopen in the state and what those businesses need to do to safely operate. 

"I have an obligation as the Governor of Ohio to get people back to work and keep them safe. Opening everything up at once would not be consistent with the obligation to keep people safe," said DeWine. "Our Responsible RestartOhio plan is the best guarantee that Ohioans will feel safe going to stores and employees will feel safe going to work. I'm optimistic about our future, but we can't be reckless."

The Responsible RestartOhio plan has five basic practices to keep people safe as they get back to work, the first of which is a take on the whole "no shirt, no shoes, no service" angle. 

The gist of the No. 1 safe practice: All employees, all clients and all customers at reopening businesses need to be wearing faces masks at all times. Or, as the Ohio Department of Health puts it, "No mask, no work, no service, no exception."

The other four bullet points in the plan include conducting a daily health assessment (which the ODH says means taking your temperature with a thermometer to check for a fever and watching for coughing or trouble breathing), washing your hands/social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing workplaces throughout the day and at the close of business and limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.

So, if you don't have a face mask yet, you need to get one. And that is a cloth face mask, not an N95 mask or other medical-grade mask — those need to be reserved as personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. 

In the beginning of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ODH both recommended the public start wearing cloth face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The CDC said this is because even those who are exhibiting no symptoms of the coronavirus can spread the disease, and a cloth mask helps stop the transmission of droplets. 

If you don't know how to sew, the CDC made this video for how to craft a no-sew face mask:

We also made a step-by-step slideshow

There are also plenty of online shops and other local retailers selling cloth face masks, including the Cincinnati Zoo (if you want to look like Fiona).

Whatever kind of cloth face mask you use, the CDC says to make sure the mask can: 

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Yes. You need to be able to wash your cloth face mask after you wear it, otherwise you're potentially sticking virus droplets onto your face.

DeWine gave specifics for when a handful of different businesses could reopen this month, but said the rest of us should continue to consider ourselves under a sort of modified stay at home order. The ODH says, "Because the danger of COVID-19 still exists, Ohio's Stay at Home order will remain in effect to encourage Ohioans to continue making reasonable, rational decisions about leaving home...Large gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited."

Here's what DeWine said can reopen, when and how:

General Office Environments can reopen May 4 and these protocols are mandatory:

Employees and Guests

  • Ensure minimum 6 ft between people, if not possible, install barriers
  • Personnel should work from home when possible
  • Employees must perform daily symptom assessment*
  • Require employees to stay home if symptomatic
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times while working 
  • Require regular handwashing
  • Reduce sharing of work materials
  • Limit travel as much as possible
  • Stagger arrival of all employees and guests
  • Post signage on health safety guidelines in common areas

Physical Spaces/ Workstations

  • Frequent disinfection of desks, workstations, and high-contact surfaces
  • Daily disinfection of common areas
  • Cancel/postpone in person events when social distancing guidelines cannot be met
  • No buffet in cafeteria
  • Utilize disposable tableware and other materials
  • Establish maximum capacity (e.g. 50% of fire code)

Confirmed Cases

  • Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at work
  • Contact the local health district about suspected cases or exposures
  • Shutdown shop/floor for deep sanitation if possible

Manufacturing, Distribution and Construction can also reopen May 4 and these protocols are mandatory:

Employees, Distributors and Guests

  • Ensure minimum 6 ft between people, if not possible, install barriers
  • Employees must perform daily symptom assessment*
  • Require employees to stay home if symptomatic
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times
  • Require regular handwashing
  • Stagger or limit arrivals of employees and guests
  • Personnel should work from home if possible

Shift Pattern

  • Daily disinfection of desks and workstations 
  • Change shift patterns (e.g. fewer shifts)
  • Stagger lunch and break times

Physical Spaces / Workstations

  • Ensure minimum 6 ft between people, if not possible, install barriers
  • Daily deep disinfection of high-contact surfaces 
  • Space factory floor to allow for distancing
  • Regulate max number of people in cafeterias/ common spaces
  • Establish maximum capacity (e.g. 50% of fire code)

Confirmed Cases

  • Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at work
  • Contact the local health district about suspected cases or exposures
  • Shutdown shop/floor for deep sanitation if possible

Consumer, Retail and Services can reopen May 12 and these protocols are mandatory:

Employees

  • Ensure min 6 ft between people, if not possible, install barriers
  • Employees must perform daily symptom assessment*
  • Require employees to stay home if symptomatic
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times
  • Require regular handwashing
  • Place hand sanitizers in high-contact locations
  • Clean high-touch items after each use (e.g. carts, baskets)

Customers and Guests

  • Ensure minimum 6 ft between people
  • Specify hours for at-risk populations (e.g. elderly)
  • Place hand sanitizers in high-contact locations
  • Ask customers and guests not to enter if symptomatic
  • Face coverings to be worn while shopping or visiting
  • Stagger entry of customers and guest

Physical Spaces

  • Ensure minimum 6 ft between people, if not possible, install barriers
  • Post social distancing signage & disinfect high-contact surfaces hourly
  • Clean merchandise before stocking if possible
  • Establish maximum capacity (e.g. 50% of fire code)
  • Discontinue self-service food stations, product samples
  • Food courts remain closed

Confirmed Cases

  • Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at work
  • Contact the local health district about suspected cases or exposures
  • Shutdown shop/floor for deep sanitation if possible

And here's is what is still not reopening:

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