(8-12-20) During the Mercer County Board of Health’s regular meeting today, the Board went into executive session to discuss enforcement efforts related to violations of the state orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Mercer County Prosecutor Matt Fox and Assistant Prosecutor Amy Ikerd joined the conversation by phone.
After coming out of executive session, a motion was made and passed which provides guidance for Mercer County Health District (MCHD) staff as they continue to respond to complaints from the public about violations of the COVID-19 orders, primarily concerning lack of social distancing within local businesses and public gatherings.
Upon receiving the first complaint about a violation, MCHD staff will continue contacting the person or entity responsible and providing education on what is required. When repeat complaints are received, MCHD will investigate those complaints in person with assistance from local law enforcement if needed.
Repeated violations will be documented. When repeat violations occur in establishments with liquor licenses, MCHD will continue to forward documentation on to the Ohio Investigative Unit. The Ohio Investigative Unit is a division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol that is charged with investigating and issuing citations for COVID-19 violations in restaurants and bars with liquor licenses. MCHD continues to work with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office to determine appropriate enforcement approaches for other types of establishments.
MCHD is also working to develop a way of publicizing COVID-19 violations at local businesses, similar to the publication of inspection results for local food establishments on the MCHD website at www.mchdohio.org. While the enforcement process can take some time, publication of documented violations on the website will give concerned citizens of Mercer County the information they need to make responsible decisions that are appropriate for them.
Over recent weeks, the spread of COVID-19 has increased in Mercer County to the point that it has gained statewide attention. MCHD continues to encourage the people of Mercer County to contribute to a community-wide effort to control the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors. It is and always has been the desire of MCHD to accomplish this without heavy-handed enforcement.
If you have questions about COVID-19, contact the Mercer County Health District 419-586-3251.