Health departments get hundreds of calls about businesses remaining open

Cuyahoga County Board of Health
Posted at 8:27 PM, Mar 30, 2020

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Northeast Ohio county health departments continue to take calls from people who are wondering whether a business is essential or who are filing complaints about a non-essential business continuing to operate.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health said it hasn't had to issue any citations yet. CCBH has taken 1,560 calls so far.

Of those, health commissioner Terry Allan said, 554 calls dealt with questions about what businesses are essential. Three hundred twelve calls were complaints about businesses not following the state's orders on essential versus non-essential businesses. One hundred seven calls were about social distancing.

The Board of Health has asked businesses in a number of different sectors to comply with the order and shut down voluntarily.

"Barbershops, hair and nail salons, bars and restaurants, car washes, driving ranges, gym, dance, yoga and fitness centers," Allan said. "Massage therapy locations and non-essential retail stores like clothing, furniture, craft, beauty, gaming and sports goods, as well as vape, CBD and smoke shops."

Allan said field staff were in the process of responding to complaints and making sure businesses that are not essential are taking steps "to organize their business remotely or to to stop temporarily their business during this time."

The Board of Health said if it has to warn a business more than twice, yet another complaint could mean Board of Health staff will likely come out with police.

Because CCBH issues licenses directly to bars and restaurants, a spokesperson said, it has the authority to pull a license for noncompliance after a business that's been warned continues to operate. In that case, he said, CCBH would report it to the county prosecutor and the Ohio Department of Health.

Cuyahoga County is far from the only county dealing with this. The health department in Summit County said it's received close to 700 complaints, while the health department in Stark County has received approximately 500 complaints and has closed down four businesses with a written order.

If Cuyahoga County residents have a concern about a business they think is non-essential, or about social distancing, CCBH asked that they not email or go through the website, but rather call (216) 201-2000 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Outside of Cuyahoga County, call your own local health department with concerns or questions about essential businesses and social distancing.