Through Feb. 18, the OIU, which is a division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, visited more than 29,000 establishments across Ohio since March 15, 2020. Many were cited for not following the state-mandated curfew, serving alcohol past 10 p.m., and not adhering to social distancing protocols.
Visits are initiated either by tips, local law enforcement or health departments. Occasionally, OIU agents will initiate visits if they see a potential infraction on the way to or from an inspection.
Four Butler County establishments were cited for health order violations, three of which were for after-hour sales.
Wolf said the unit has issued 159 warnings as of Feb. 18 to businesses. There have been 35 warnings issued in the designated Cincinnati area, which includes Butler and Warren counties and the Dayton region. Only the Cleveland region had more warnings at 39, according to the OIU.
Also working to enforce the state’s health rules and regulations is the Retail Compliance Unit, where through Thursday, 29,406 retail establishments have been visited, which included 1,080 last week, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The unit inspects locations to ensure businesses are following ODH’s Nov. 13 order on retail and business compliance for facial coverings.
“The Ohio Department of Health continues to urge Ohioans to wear a mask, wash their hands, and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said ODH spokeswoman Alicia Shoults.
The unit monitors retail businesses like big box stores, grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores. Shoults said the “overwhelming number of retailers, employees and customers we have visited are complying with safety protocols and the state’s mask order.”
Of the 29,406 visits, there were 219 warnings issued since the order went into effect.
The RCU does not check on restaurants, bars, banquet and catering centers, hair and nail salons, day spas, barbershops, tattoo parlors, body piercing locations, tanning facilities, gyms, dance instruction studios, or personal fitness venues. Shoults says local health departments inspect these locations.
The Middletown Department of Health has received 19 calls in November and December about alleged ODH violations, according to the city. Most were referred to the HealthSpace database and one was referred to the RCU.
Hamilton Health Director Kay Farrar said since the November health order, “We’re seeing much better compliance lately than we had initially.” She also said Hamilton businesses were provided COVID-19-related signs to display.
Following the rules
The state’s Retail Compliance Unit reports an Ohio compliance rate of:
- 94 percent among customers properly wearing masks
- 95.3 percent among employees properly wearing masks
- 97.6 percent among retail businesses with proper signage
- 97 percent among retail businesses with proper social distancing