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Crackdown begins on businesses in violation of ‘non-essential’ closure order

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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TIFFIN — Local leaders are cracking down on businesses not complying with Governor Mike DeWine’s closure orders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine ordered the closure of all “non-essential businesses” amid the pandemic, but some have said the list of what is “essential” is somewhat broad, leaving it up to local health departments to enforce the order in their jurisdictions.

Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer said she wants all businesses that remain open in Seneca County to submit a statement of justification to her via email as to why they are “essential” and should be able to remain open.

The obvious essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and restaurants with take-out, are not required to fulfill this new requirement, Schweitzer said.

Tiffin Police Chief Fred Stevens has also warned local businesses not complying with the governor’s order, stating that noncompliance is a “criminal charge of disobeying an enforcement official’s orders.”

“Folks, we are getting messages to our FB messenger and phone calls from others about a very FEW locations/businesses that are not complying with the Governor’s & Mayor’s proclamations/orders/regulations on specific businesses closures,” Stevens said in a statement.

Stevens explained that up until the emergency orders, it was a civil health department request and they were able to enforce it by “pulling your health certificate, etc.”

But now, since emergency orders and proclamations have gone into the place, Stevens said noncompliance could result in a criminal charge of disobeying an enforcement official’s orders, which is a misdemeanor of the second degree which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum $750 fine.

“Please, TPD is asking you NOT to make us the ‘heavy’ in this,” Stevens said. “We have worked extremely hard to be a community oriented outreach department with our residents. We do not want to be in this position anymore than you and your business wants to be in it.”

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