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Cuyahoga County gets restraining order to close non-essential business that had stayed open

April 8, 2020
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The Cuyahoga County Board of Health holds press conference updating citizens on the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  

Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) commissioner Terry Allan announced in the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Wednesday, April 8 briefing that the first business in Cuyahoga County had been closed, the Seconds City Consignment Home Furnishings in Parma Heights (Seconds City LTD), after a temporary restraining order was granted by a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas judge because “by staying open the business created an unnecessary risk of spreading COVID-19. Please understand that our intention is not to make not to take any on any one business or owner this is about the collective.”

 Think of a scenario people are gathering in a store and congregating they may unknowingly be spreading COVID-19.

He said the county took this step because “think of a scenario people are gathering in a store and congregating they may unknowingly be spreading COVID-19 to people in that store who then go back in their communities, back to their families, back to their workplaces and then ignite chains of transmission perpetuating cases and potential fatalities so these things are interrelated and so these steps that are taken to protect the public's health.”  

According to Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Brendan Sheehan’s ruling, “despite repeated warnings from the Board of Health and citations from the City of Parma Heights, [the business] has continued to operate.”  

The judge’s ruling also stated that, “continued operation of [Seconds City LTD] will cause irreparable harm to the public health.” The ruling stated that if the business did not stop operating the owner could be subject to fines or jail time.

 It’s a good thing that there is now a statewide board that business owners can appeal to.

In the briefing, Allan pointed out that the state does have a Dispute Resolution Commission where businesses can appeal decisions if they are determined to not be essential. He said he also appreciated the businesses that closed or moved to teleworking as a way to err on the side of caution and support public health.  

He later in the briefing responded to a question about what led to the restraining order shutting down the consignment shop and if the county is planning to try similar orders against other businesses, Allan said “we have been along with our business community learning together about the what the guidance from the state and the governor's orders mean.”  

Allan said in every case the county is “dispassionately” making decisions about business assessments and says that there will inevitably be differences of opinion of is a business is essential. He said he thinks it’s a good thing that there is now a statewide board that business owners can appeal to.  

I think people are sincere about their reasons for feeling that they qualify and in the same way that we're sincere about trying to work through the governor's order with the real goal of getting folks to the degree possible to err on the side of caution and…to not allow spaces where people can congregate,” said Allan.  

He said the county has received hundreds of calls every day from businesses or employees asking if businesses are essential and should remain open.

 I believe people are trying to do the right thing I think that that is a default for our community.

I believe people are trying to do the right thing I think that that is a default for our community but where there are differences of opinion and where those differences are sustained we will seek legal support to make the right decisions to err on the side of caution but I wouldn't expect this to be the last one potentially,” said Allan. He said that counties across the state will receive more clarity about which businesses are essential and which aren’t through things like restraining orders and rulings from the state board.  

“I wouldn't say that people are outwardly sort of thwarting the law I would say that they may have a difference of opinion about their interpretation and I think that's sincere,” said Allan.

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