What is an “essential’ business anyway?

We’ve fielded questions from a few of you about the Governor’s stay-at-home order and what it means for your business. We, along with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, have partnered with the Governor, in support of the order, knowing full well this is a tough time for local businesses.
To be honest, it’s a question that we have looked at as well because the order doesn’t specifically name Chambers and what they do, particularly as we have temporarily shifted from a uniquely business organization to a community organization.
To be clear, the Chamber intends to work from home after the close of business today. If you need us, please email us directly or call me at 740-649-6372.
Also, attorneys from Vorys in Columbus are hosting a coronavirus webinar at noon Thursday to help businesses navigate these tough times, including discussion of essential and non-essential businesses.
Here are some thoughts:
  • Read the order. Knowledge is power. Some of your businesses are clearly spelled out. There is also a FAQ that can answer questions for employees and others.
    •  Also, if you keep your business open, be sure you are complying with the essentials of social distancing, including six-foot distances, washing your hands for 20 seconds or more, having hand sanitizer or sanitizing products available, separate hours of operations for vulnerable populations, and online and remote access, including posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.
  • Communication is critical. Be clear about what is expected of your employees, whether they are in the business or working remotely. If you’re laying off them, be clear about the resources available to them.
  • Consider your resources. If your business is on the razor’s edge of “essential,” make some calls – to the health district, to other related businesses, to determine your next steps.
  • Lean toward staying home. The order might seem unclear to some of you. Weigh carefully the ability to stay home. Yes, it’s a crippling blow, but, to be honest, the best chance we have of shortening the time span of this order is through limiting of touchpoints with the community. Staying at home accomplishes that goal.
  • Lead by example. If you can work remotely, do so. The home office doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Use the time wisely. We’ve posted a list of things business owners and employees can do to grow their skills while they are working remotely or not working.
  • If you’re able, still get carryout food. If you’re laid off or not getting paid, this is a tough one. But do it sparingly if you can afford it. A little help to our small businesses can go a long way.
These are just a few words of guidance, but maybe you have your own. Reach out with comments or questions via email at mthrone@chillicotheohio.com.