The Perry County Health Department is receiving numerous questions and complaints related to the Statewide Facial Covering Order that was effective July 23 at 6 p.m.

Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, local health departments have been identified as the enforcement authority for many orders and mandates. Many of these have not previously been within our scope of jurisdiction, making these unprecedented times and unchartered waters for us to navigate. Nonetheless, as states The Perry County Health Department’s mission, we strive to improve Public Health in Perry County by preventing disease, promoting health and safety, and protecting our environment. Throughout the COVID19 pandemic, we continue to strive to achieve our mission, even as it becomes increasingly challenging.

The Statewide Facial Coverings Order can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. We are in full support of our Governor’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID19 in Ohio. We expect our residents and constituents to do their part to help us. We understand that there are exceptions to the statewide order, which are similar to the exceptions the Governor set forth in the specific operating sector guidance during the re-opening phase.

However, if you do not have an exception or are not engaged in an activity considered an exception, you are expected to wear a mask or facial covering when in an indoor location that is not a residence, such as stores, restaurants (when not actively consuming goods or beverages), etc.

Other requirements include outdoor areas in which you are around those not within your household and you are unable to maintain six-foot distancing, and when you are waiting for or riding public transportation, a taxi, car service, or ride sharing service.

With the statewide mask order now in place, we will continue to conduct our complaint response process as we have since this began. We will enforce the statewide mask order for businesses and social public events. When a complaint is received, the business that is in violation will be contacted to discuss the complaint, review the order and provide guidance, and offer assistance where needed.

If multiple complaints are received for the same location, a compliance check visit will be conducted. The Perry County Health Department will focus on education of the importance of facial coverings and lean on local businesses and community partners to do the same throughout our county. We plan to work with local law enforcement to address enforcement issues as they arise.

Remember that business owners and employees are doing what is required of them. We understand that there are strong feelings around this issue, but please continue to support businesses and events and please be kind. If you would like to make a complaint regarding the facial covering order, you can do so by calling our office at 740-342-5179.

Many Perry countians have concerns about the enforcement of the facial covering order throughout the many local events planned in our communities. We are encouraging any community planning an event to reach out to the Health Department for education on how to keep attendees as safe as possible if they choose to attend. Remember, masks are required at all community events even if the event is outside.

We still encourage that the best way to prevent the spread is to stay home — but wear a facial covering and social distance if you must be in public.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information on our programs contact us at 740-342-5179, like us on Facebook or visit our webpage at perrycountyhealth.info.

Deborah Raney is the Director of Health Education at the Perry County Health Department and a weekly contributor to the Perry County Tribune.

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