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Updates 04/09/2021: Ohio's Travel Industry and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Economic Updates


A simplified public health order has being released by the Ohio Department of Health covering guidelines for social distancing, facial coverings, and gatherings.

This new health order replaces nearly all other orders, including those for campgrounds, entertainment venues, mass gatherings, bars, restaurants, banquet and catering services, fairs, etc. Requirements under those previous orders are no longer mandated; only what is stated in the new order is now required by the state. 

Keep in mind, local health departments can impose stricter regulations.

This new order gives businesses the freedom to implement with common sense those things that most prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  • face coverings
  • social distancing
  • sanitizing
  • hand washing

Please Note:

  • There is NO LONGER an order limiting capacity at outdoor events to 30% fixed seating capacity.
  • Indoor meetings without fixed seating (in other words, seats bolted to the ground) are not under any capacity restriction, other than your ability to provide setups with social distancing in place.

Face Coverings

Face coverings should be worn at all times in:

  • Any indoor location that is not a residence
  • Outdoors when it is impossible to maintain a six-foot distance from individuals who are not part of your pod or household
  • Waiting for riding, driving, operating public transportation, taxi, car service, or ride-sharing a vehicle. This doesn’t apply to private or rental vehicles where members of a pod/family are sharing a vehicle.

Face covering requirements do NOT apply when:

  • While seated and actively eating and drinking. Must remain seated.
  • While working alone in an enclosed space, such as an office.
  • If an individual is separated by at least six feet in all directions in a space that is not used or accessible by the public, such as an office
  • When actively participating in broadcast communications
  • Individual is less than 10 years old
  • A medical condition prevents wearing of a mask
  • When individual is communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired or another disability where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • While actively exercising in a gym or indoor facility, as long as six or more feet of distance between individuals exists
  • While actively engaged in public safety, such as law enforcement, firefighters or emergency medical personnel
  • When prohibited by law or regulation
  • When in violation of documented industry standards
  • When in violation of documented business safety policies
  • When an officiant of a religious service
  • When working in an industrial or manufacturing facility, employees must be separated by at least six feet in all directions or by a barrier

Managing Events, Meetings and Groups

All limits for capacity are lifted, other than for indoor facilities with fixed seating. Spectators at an indoor facility with fixed capacity are limited to 25%. If your seating is not fixed (such as a meeting venue where setups for events are flexible), this does not apply.

However, you still have to provide the 6-foot distancing between individuals who are not from the same household.

Keeping the Six Feet of Separation Between Groups of Individuals

When gathered together in any setting, individuals should be in a group of no more than 10 individuals, and each group should be separated from other groups by at least six feet. Take this into consideration when planning any function or when managing the flow of customers.  

Think of this in terms of “party size.”

Large Gatherings

  • When managing an event, discourage standing or sitting close together in buildings or other parts of the premises.
  • Where possible, maintain one-way traffic in buildings and other area of premises.

Exhibitions, Competitions and Auctions

  • All participants maintain six ft. distancing.
  • If a competition, family members of participants have priority in viewing areas.
  • Microphones must be sanitized after each person uses them.
  • Virtual events should be considered, though not required.
  • Buyers have priority seating at auctions. Social distancing must be maintained for all events.

Capacity Limit for Spectators at Indoor Facilities

  • Spectators at an indoor facility with fixed seating are limited to 25% of fixed seating.
  • Maintain 6-foot distancing between seated spectators with groups of up to 10 seated together.

Social Distancing

  • Maintain 6-foot social distancing in all directions for employees and customers.
  • Continue frequent hand washing / hand sanitizing.
  • Cover coughs/sneezes into your elbow not your hands.
  • Regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
  • Where possible include signs, tape or other to remind employees and customers to maintain 6-foot distancing.
  • Have hand sanitizer available for employees and customers.


  • Hand washing or sanitization upon entry of a facility.
  • Provide sanitizers that meet CDC guidelines throughout your business, event, meeting, etc.
  • Routinely disinfect high-contact surfaces and areas.


  • All businesses and organized gatherings, where possible shall post signage at all entrances to wear face coverings and to maintain 6-foot distancing at all times on grounds or premises.


  • Strive to maximize ventilation, including doors and windows.
  • Indoor facilities expected to employ filtration of MERV 13 or higher as soon as possible.

Food and Beverages                      

  • All establishments or organized gatherings (such as meetings and events) that serve food and beverage should require patrons to be seated while eating and drinking.
  • Tables should be six feet apart.
  • No more than 10 people per table.
  • Facial coverings are to be worn when not eating or drinking.
  • Food and beverage to be consumed while seated.


New, more simplified public health orders are being released by the Ohio Department of Health today. These more simplified public orders will replace and consolidate several existing public health orders. As of this email, the new order was not posted. We will provide details about this order as soon as it is released, and we have the opportunity to review. Additional guidance specifically for graduation and proms will be released tomorrow.  

The governor said the new order focuses on the basics, and he emphasized that there is nothing new nor any surprises. He highlighted a few of the regulations that will be included.

  • Masks will continue to be mandatory.
  • Clarification of 10 person gathering – this means how many people you are with, or “party size.” This does not mean events, festivals and other such functions cannot be held; it means smaller groupings within a larger event should not be larger than 10 people. If you manage a parade, event, meeting, etc., keep individual group sizes to 10 persons or less. There can be lots of groupings of 10 or less. 
  • Businesses and venues should promote one-way traffic patterns to maintain six feet distancing.
  • Try to maintain six-feet between groups of 10. If you are an event organizer or business, group of 10 or less should be separated by six feet from the next group of 10 or less.
  • Practice good handwashing and routine disinfecting, so continue to offer handwashing and sanitizing stations.
  • There will still be restrictions on capacity, and these will be outlined in the order. In particular, the capacity for fixed seating indoors will remain capped at 25%. Even with this capacity limit, understand that groups (or bubbles of 10) must be separated by six feet.
  • Stay seated while actively eating and drinking – this includes at festivals, events, meetings, restaurants, bars, and any other location where food or beverages are consumed.   

The Ohio Travel Association is extremely pleased with the governor’s response to requests for simplification and clarification of public health orders. Together with OHLA, OTA has talked with the administration many times over the confusion of the 10-person mass gathering and need to clarify the health order’s intention.   

The public health order can be found here.

Travel Research Round-Up for this Week

What travelers are thinking, doing and needing changes constantly. To help you make sense of the research findings each week, the Ohio Travel Associations provides this one-page summary.

View Research Round-Up Here

Travel Sentiment Research


Key findings from Destination Analysts fielded Apr. 2-4:

  • 47% of American travelers believe the U.S. will be back too ‘normal’ by September of 2021.
  • 69.3% said they are in a readiness state-of-mind when it comes to travel.
  • Travel avoidance has hit a record low compared to last April:
    • 81.9% reported avoiding international travel last April, 62.1% reported avoiding international travel now.
    • 77.1% reported avoiding conventions and conferences last April, 57.3 reported avoiding convention and conferences now.
    • 81.9% reported avoiding travel in general last April, 37.1% reported avoiding traveling in general now.
    • 70.2% reported travel activities as unsafe last April, 39.6% report travel activities as unsafe now.
  • 41.6% of American travelers reported not feeling travel guilt.
  • About two-thirds of Americans are highly open to travel inspiration right now:
    • 77.7% are actively dreaming or planning travel.
    • 33.6% researched travel ideas online.
    • 17.8% made travel reservations or bookings.
    • 57.5% reported they booked a hotel room.
    • 34.6% say they bought an airline ticket.
  • For when Americans will be traveling, nearly 60% said they will take a trip within the next three months.
  • July continues to be the peak month for when people plan to travel.
  • Local resident sentiment towards travel this week:
    • 54% are comfortable going out for leisure activities.
    • 47% would be happy to see an ad promoting their own community.
    • 41% don’t want tourist in their community.
  • It appears for certain activities an important proportion of American travelers are in favor of proof-of-vaccination policies.
  • When asked how comfortable Americans would be with vaccine passports being widely used in the U.S. to allow access to public activities:
    • 52% said they would be comfortable or very comfortable.
    • 17.3% said neutral.
    • 28.4% said uncomfortable or very uncomfortable.
    • 2.3% said they are not sure.


  Key findings from Longwoods International fielded Mar. 31: 

  • When asked how likely respondents would visit a tourism attraction or business that does not have clean protocols or mask and distancing requirements:
    • 16% said they are likely to visit.
    • 12% said they are somewhat likely to visit.
    • 15% said it does not impact their decision.
    • 22% said they are somewhat unlikely to visit.
    • 35% said they are very unlikely to visit.
  • 88% of respondents said they plan to travel in the next six months. This is up 1% from March 17.
  • As for when people have their next trip planned:
    • 13% said they currently do not have any trips planned.
    • 18% said within the next month.
    • 19% said in one to two months.
    • 27% said in three to five months.
    • 23% said in six or more months.
  • COVID-19 still impacts travelers’ decisions to travel in the next six months. 33% of respondents said COVID-19 greatly impacts their decision and 15% said it has no impact at all.
  • COVID-19 also continues to influence travel plans in the next six months.
    • 32% said they are choosing destinations they can drive to as opposed to fly.
    • 31% are traveling within the U.S. instead of internationally.
    • 30% are reducing trips they are taking.
    • 15% are choosing rural destinations over city destinations.
    • 12% are choosing not to travel at all.
    • 10% are canceling all trips.
    • 24% reported COVID-19 not influencing their travel plans.
  • Perception of safety has also changed since the last survey reported.
    • 50% of respondents said they support opening their community to visitors. This is down 2% from March 17.
    • 58% reported feeling safe traveling outside their community. This is up 3% since March 17.
    • 57% reported feeling safe while dining in local restaurants and shopping in retail stores within their community. This is up 4% since March 17.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine plays a role in travel as well. 39% of respondents said the vaccine has no impact on their travel plans. 34% said they will wait to travel until they have received the vaccine.

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