Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced Monday that he's signed four emergency orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The most significant one is an order that requires social distancing in public spaces.
"But it is now the law of the city that people must maintain six feet distance in public, in public spaces, outdoor spaces," Cranley said. "This is not indoor. This is not in your private home. It may be good idea to do that in your private home too, but this only applies in outdoor public spaces."
The physical distancing requirement will not apply to families or caretakers. It also does not apply to those in transit using either a car or on a bus. It won't apply to passing people on a sidewalk or on a park trail for example.
Cranley said the police department will be enforcing the order, and that will involve suggesting people obey the six-feet spacing when possible and reasonable.
The mayor, for now, will have all parks and recreation center employees report directly to the city manager instead of the recreation and parks directors. Cranley said that's so those employees can perform other important duties during the crisis.
"So we may have recreation center workers who are delivering food," Cranley said. "We may have recreation center workers who work and become additional 911 call receivers. We don't even know all the ways in which we may redeploy our workforce."
Meanwhile, the mayor has stopped all city administrative hearings for 30 days, and blocked city boards and commissions from meeting for the same time period.
In addition, the public will be excluded from "physically attending city council and committee meetings for 30 days." The city will livestream the meeting on cable TV and the internet. This currently happens for all meetings now. The public can email comments concerning council items to email@example.com.
Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus said the county is also trying to figure out how the public can still participate in commission meetings.
"We do not want to violate the sunshine laws," Driehaus said. "We want to make sure that the community has an opportunity to continue to participate. The question is how does that work? What does that look like? And so we are all trying to figure out that space."
Driehaus said the county's Job and Family Services Department will be assisting the needs of county residents. She said officials will be protecting children and seniors during the COVID-19 crisis.
The director of that agency said the best way to communicate with those officials is online or by phone. The statewide phone number of assistance is 1-844-640-6466. The county's JFS website is hcjfs.org.
Driehaus said it's just a matter of time before there's a positive COVID-19 case in Hamilton County.
"We are paying very close attention to what is being said at the state level and the federal level because all of that, we have to interact with all of it," Driehaus said. "And so it changes on a daily basis and so we are trying to keep a track of that."
The county's interim health commissioner is urging small and large businesses to let as many as employees as possible to work from home.