December 10, 2021 — When the pandemic took the world by storm last year, we experienced the closing of businesses across a spectrum of industries deemed non-essential. Given the state of emergency that Ohio was in, an ordinance signed by Governor DeWine made it so that some essential businesses were able to operate at limited capacity, while other operations were shut down completely. The passage of the bill not only hurt small businesses, some to the point of no return, but also furthered the idea that large corporations were held in higher esteem than local, small businesses. A year later, as COVID-19 numbers fluctuate and different variants arise, it is safe to say that we will not be completely “back to normal” anytime soon. While Ohio legislators and Ohioans have faced many challenges both in terms of maintaining both health and employment security, we have learned and experienced the benefits of implementing certain precautions that helped lessen the negative impact on small businesses. If we are forced into a state of emergency lockdown in the future, these imperative precautions will serve as a base for operations to continue functioning in what is now our new normal.
The passage of the Business Fairness Act (House Bill 215) grants businesses that were previously required to limit or cease operations to continue functioning under one condition: they must comply with the same safety precautions of businesses that are deemed essential, i.e., offering masks, enforcing social distancing, and the placement of physical barriers, to name a few. GCP is in support of this legislation to help protect our clients and improve the economic vitality of our region.
Previously, a version of this bill was shot down by Governor DeWine, but research over the past year has shown that implementing such precautious measures has in fact been beneficial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and helping those businesses most greatly impacted get back on their feet. With the signing of HB 215, Governor DeWine believes this effort shows a “commitment to working collaboratively with Ohio businesses to keep our economy strong as we emerge from this pandemic.”