Revised Ohio Public Health Orders affecting Association Amenities & Annual Meetings
Revised Ohio Public Health Orders affecting Association Pools, Gyms, and Clubhouses
On April 5, 2021, the Director for the Ohio Department of Health rescinded various COVID-19-related orders (“Prior Orders”). Some of the Prior Orders related to public pools, fitness centers, and public/private gatherings, which affected how condominium and homeowners’ association boards could operate their pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses. Annual meetings and elections were also impacted.
On April 9, 2021, the Director for the Ohio Department of Health released a revised order that replaces all the Prior Orders (“New Order”). The New Order is not nearly as stringent or burdensome on community associations as the Prior Orders, but it still provides guidance and restrictions of which community associations should be aware. Specifically, the New Order: (1) provides that everyone should wear a mask (unless within the exceptions outlined in the New Order) when interacting with others outside of a household; (2) requires masks when indoors and not at home or outdoors and not able to maintain a distance of 6 ft. or more from those who are not household members; (3) provides groups should be limited to 10 or fewer persons and separated by 6 ft. or more; and (4) provides that frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly and the use of hand sanitizer and washing hands should continue.
What does this mean for Ohio condominium or homeowners’ association boards when deciding how to open pools, clubhouses, fitness centers, or hold annual meetings and elections? Below are the recommendations our firm is providing to our association clients and property managers:
- Associations should follow the New Orders outlined above.
- The use of a Waiver of Liability is no longer necessary because Ohio passed a law providing civil immunity protections to associations with respect to claims related to COVID-19 and similar respiratory viruses. This new law runs through the end of September, 2021.
- Fitness Centers: Provide signage requiring masks when not actively exercising or using fitness equipment, practice social distancing, limit attendees to allow social distancing within the fitness center and provide hand sanitizer and wipes for resident use. The fitness equipment and facility should be cleaned “regularly,” which could be every 24 hours or at intervals the Board deems appropriate.
- Pools: Pools can be reopened this year with less restrictions in place. Usage can be limited to residents. Groups should limit to no more than 10 persons and those groups should be spaced no less than 6ft. apart with signage posted at the pool area regarding use of masks and social distancing. There is no longer a requirement that restrooms be open and cleaned every 2 hours, but restrooms and pool equipment/furniture should be cleaned regularly as deemed appropriate by the Board. Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer should be available for resident use.
- Clubhouses: As with pools and the fitness centers, groups of more than 10 persons should be discouraged and hand sanitizer and wipes should be available for resident use. Signage should be posted at the entrance or within the clubhouse requiring masks and social distancing.
- Annual Meetings: The New Orders provide that managers and organizers should conduct events in a manner that discourages sitting and gathering close together. Annual meetings could be held indoors or outdoors with chairs spaced apart to encourage social distancing and owner should be encouraged to wear masks at the meeting. If held at a church or other location with fixed seating, the maximum number of attendees is limited to 25% of the total capacity of the facility and 6ft. must be maintained between seated attendees with groups no larger than 10 persons seated together. This means in person meetings and elections can be held, but there will need to be some adjustments as to the location and how seating is arranged.
For signage to post as recommended above, signs are available online at: https:/coronavirus.ohio.gov/portal/gov/covid-19/responsible-restart-ohio/Posters-and-Signs/
If you need further recommendations or information regarding opening amenities or holding an annual meeting and election, please contact Williams & Strohm, LLC at (614) 228-0207.
Ms. Strohm has been practicing law since 2004 and is a principal of the firm Williams & Strohm, LLC. As a member of the Ohio and Columbus Bar Associations, she is admitted to practice in all Ohio courts and the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Read Robin Strohm's full bio.