Commission Created to Settle Disputes Over What Constitutes an Essential Business

April 13, 2020

As noted in a previous First Alert Governor DeWine has ordered that all nonessential businesses close. Since that order, there has been some uncertainty in the business community as to which businesses are actually essential and which must shut down for the duration of the emergency. Thus far, those issues have largely been resolved by local health departments. To resolve disputes over those determinations Governor DeWine created a Dispute Resolution Commission (the “Commission”) comprised of Sam Randazzo (Chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), Lydia Mihalik (Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency), and Sheryl Maxfield (Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce).
The Commission issued its first orders on April 8 and 9, and certain things have now become clear. The Commission is taking a practical approach to determining what constitutes an essential business. The Commission found that car washes can remain open as long as appropriate physical distancing is maintained. CBD dispensaries and pet groomers are not permitted to remain open because the physical distancing is more difficult to maintain. These orders also have provided some certainty as to how Commission decisions will be made. It appears that much of the administrative burden of operating the Commission is being borne by Chairman Randazzo and the Staff of the Public Utilities Commission.   
In light of Calfee’s extensive Public Utilities Commission and Government Relations practice, Calfee is perfectly positioned to respond to any questions you may have regarding whether your business is essential. To the extent a dispute arises regarding this issue with your local health department, Calfee is able to pursue that issue with the Commission to get it resolved in a timely manner.  

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