GIRARD — After approving a public health order Tuesday in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that limited business and public activities, which took effect Wednesday at noon, the Crawford County Commission approved a revised order Friday to take effect at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 28, that both clarified some aspects of the earlier order and increased some restrictions.


The newly approved order specifies that it is a “stay at home/movement restriction order,” although there are some exceptions to the general rule that people need to remain in their homes.

“The intent of this public health order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible,” the order states. “When people need to leave their places of residence to perform essential activities they should at all times and as much as reasonably possible comply with social distancing requirements (remain 6 feet apart). All provisions of this public health order should be interpreted to effectuate this intent.”

There are some exemptions from the order to stay home. Unless otherwise prohibited by the order, people can still go to work. They can leave their residence for essential services or to buy essential supplies such as groceries, food, household consumer products, supplies needed to work from home, and products needed to maintain health and safety. People can leave home for health reasons such as to buy medicine or medical supplies, seek emergency care, or visit a healthcare professional.

Provided they meet social distancing requirements, people can still leave their residence for certain outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting or fishing. People can still go to public parks and outdoor recreation areas, but playgrounds, where there is a risk of spreading COVID-19 from playground equipment, will be closed. Other recreational activities will also be restricted.

“All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, bowling alley, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, country clubs, social clubs, golfing, outdoor venues for spectator sports shall be closed to the public,” the order states.

Gyms, spas, salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors shall be closed, according to the order. Although the previously approved order had limited restaurants to delivery, drive-through or curbside service, the new order additionally clarifies that not only indoor but outdoor dining as well at restaurants is prohibited.

The order includes additional rules about some of the larger businesses that will remain open to the public because they provide essential services. “Big Box stores” such as “Home Depot/Large Walmart Stores” will be limited to 50 patrons at a time, while smaller or medium-sized grocery stores “(i.e. Dollar general, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Small Grocery Stores)” will be limited to 25. These stores will have to ensure that people waiting to get in stay in their vehicles while they wait and will have to submit a mitigation plan by 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, addressing issues such as sanitation and social distancing.

The order includes further clarification of which businesses are “essential” and “non-essential,” and all county residents are encouraged to read the order in its entirety. It also implicitly acknowledges that there will be some limitations to achieving 100 percent compliance.

“Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this directive, but are strongly urged to obtain shelter,” the order notes. “Individuals, whose residences are unsafe or become unlivable, such as victims of domestic violence, are permitted and urged to leave their home and stay at a safe alternative location.”

The order notes that it will be re-evaluated “at a minimum of every 7 days” and county commissioners said Friday they would initially review the order again Tuesday, March 31, at their regularly scheduled meeting.