MIAMI COUNTY — On Sunday, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, signed a “Stay at Home” order, ordering people currently living within the state of Ohio to remain in their homes or places of residence unless otherwise allowed by the exemptions listed in the order. The order is effective 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 23, until 11:59 p.m. on April 6.
Gov. Mike DeWine also gave state and local law enforcement the authority to enforce this order, and the order also delegates local health departments to work with and answer questions from public officials enforcing this order.
The Piqua Police Department is encouraging the community to comply with the orders, with Chief of Police Rick Byron saying in a statement he believes enforcement action taken in regard to this order will “only occur under extreme circumstances or during a blatant disregard of” the order.
“This is taking place in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus,” Byron said. “It is important to remind the community that their continued cooperation in following the direction of Governor DeWine’s mandates will benefit all of us as this crisis progresses.”
Byron said the state’s “Stay at Home” order includes “common sense” exemptions allowing people to leave their homes for groceries, carryout meals, medical supplies, and other essentials. People will also be permitted to go outside for exercise, although not at public playgrounds, and they are also “allowed to tend to family members, friends, and pets that may be in other homes and in need of care.” Essential businesses, infrastructure, and services listed in the order will be permitted to remain open, and people will be allowed to travel between work and home.
“Governor DeWine noted this is an order, not a suggestion, and he expects all people to comply and that all health departments and local law enforcement can enforce this order,” Byron said. “I can anticipate that the enforcement action with respect to the Governor’s order will typically only occur under extreme circumstances or during a blatant disregard of the order(s), which would impact public safety.”
Byron also said officers will not be stopping people to check why they are out or where they are going, and they will be intervening only when necessary.
“The philosophy of this office will be to ask everyone to voluntarily comply with the order(s) and only leave their residences on permitted outings,” Byron said. “Officers will only intervene when it is necessary to preserve public safety and to maintain the health and public peace of the community.”
The Piqua Police Department will also be working with the Piqua Health Department as needed to enforce the “Stay at Home” order with local businesses, such as potentially with non-essential businesses that need to cease operations until the order has expired.
Director Amy Welker of the Piqua Health Department said the health department will be evaluating businesses on a case-by-case basis. If businesses do not meet the exemptions included in the “Stay at Home” order in regard to essential businesses or services, the health department will be asking those businesses to close. Welker noted the order is not just about keeping the businesses’ customers safe, but also their employees.
For businesses that are able to remain open, the order includes requirements to have hand sanitizer available, to maintain six-foot distances between people, to adopt operating hours for vulnerable populations, and to post online if the facility is open and how best to reach the facility.
“Public safety has to adjust to this crisis as it unfolds, and we are attempting to navigate these times to provide essential services and protect our employees,” Byron said. “We are mindful of the sacrifices that residents are making, and we are trying to make common sense decisions that serve us all well. The sacrifices we make today and the coming weeks will greatly benefit others and us in the days to come.”
The full “Stay at Home” order is available on the city of Piqua’s website at piquaoh.org.