Business Group Disagrees With Mask Mandate; Says Ohio Will Borrow Funds From Feds

May 2, 2020

Construction, distribution and manufacturing operations can restart Monday in Ohio, and retail shops can open May 12 – though Gov. Mike DeWine’s latest order allows them to do curbside pickup, delivery and appointments now. But more than a million Ohioans have filed for unemployment, and the state is struggling with how it will pay them.

When businesses reopen in Ohio, customers and clients won’t be required by the state to wear masks or facial coverings. 

But with a few exceptions, the state is mandating employees to wear them, along with observing social distancing and cleaning and sanitizing spaces.  

Andy Doehrel with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce thinks that’s a little too stringent.

“We’re just concerned about the mask requirement across the board, even in the workplace, because we feel that businesses can take other measures to protect their workforce and not necessarily make them wear a mask," Doerhel said.

When DeWine had first suggested the requirement that customers wear masks, businesses pushed back, saying they didn’t want to have to enforce the state’s mandate.

But for those who aren’t working, there are concerns about how they’ll be paid.

Ohio had to borrow $3.3 billion from the federal government after its unemployment compensation fund went broke in 2009 – which also happened to 34 other states during the Great Recession. That debt was paid off in 2016. The fund started the year with $1.3 billion, and will run out of money next month.

Doehrel said the state will have to go to the feds for a loan with interest – again: "That’s what we’re going to have to do is borrow money, unfortunately, because of the problems that that raises.”

But Ohioans who file for unemployment will get paid, even though business, labor leaders and lawmakers have been working on a fix to shore up that fund for 15 years with no agreement.

The full interview with Andrew Doehrel on "The Sound of Ideas" is here.