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What are the Reopening Plans for the Tri-state?

HR Question

Each state is putting out its own reopening plan for businesses amid COVID-19. What are the state reopening plans for our tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana?

HR Answer

This is the question on everyone’s mind! As many states are beginning to consider their reopening protocols, it can be tough to keep track of the updates and new information. We’ve compiled a list of the most recent state reopening plans for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana below. 

Not in Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana? Check out this USA Today article, which outlines a brief summary of each state’s most recent updates.


Ohio’s State Reopening Plan: Responsible Restart Ohio

On Monday, April 27, Governor Mike DeWine announced his plan to “responsibly restart Ohio” through a staggered approach. While many businesses may begin the process of reopening their doors on a staggered-restart schedule outlined below, there are still several safety regulations to consider prior to reopening. 

Through Ohio’s Safe Business Practices for Getting Back to Work, any business that wants to reopen must:

  • Recommend use of face coverings for employees (it is not mandated, but rather strongly recommended, for clients/customers)
  • Conduct daily health assessments by employers and employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty” 
  • Maintain good hygiene at all times – hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing
  • Clean and sanitize workplaces throughout the workday and at the close of business or between shifts 
  • Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines, which includes:
    • Establishing maximum capacity at 50% of fire code
    • Using appointment setting where possible to limit congestion

Provided that businesses follow these guidelines, they can begin to follow the Responsible Restart Ohio schedule. All industries are required to meet mandatory requirements such as: 

  • Ensuring a minimum of 6 feet between people and installing barriers for when that is not possible 
  • Working from home if at all possible 
  • All employees must perform daily symptom assessments (monitoring for fever, cough, shortness of breath), and must stay home if symptomatic.
  • Staggering or limiting the arrivals of employees and guests

Should you not find your industry below, the Ohio Department of Health has updated its list of Continued Business Closures, as well.

On May 1:

The healthcare sector will be one of the first to reopen. All healthcare procedures (that do not require an overnight stay in a hospital) may move forward, including dentists and veterinarians

On May 4: 

Manufacturing, distribution, and construction industries may begin to reopen. They are expected to follow the above required regulations but are also recommended to provide stipends to employees for private transportation. For further information on how to adjust the shift patterns, physical spaces, and workstations, refer to the guidelines for manufacturing, distribution, and construction industries.

General office environments may also begin to reopen, provided they follow the mandatory guidelines above. Additional mandatory requirements for these environments include: 

  • Reducing the sharing of work materials
  • Limiting travel as much as possible
  • Post signage on health safety guidelines in common areas

Other recommended Best Practices include: 

  • Ensure seating distance of 6 ft. or more
  • Enable natural workplace ventilation
  • Health questionnaire for symptoms at entry
  • Temperature taking protocol

For further information, refer to the guidelines for general office environments.

On May 12: 

Consumer, retail, and services companies may begin to reopen to the public. They are required to meet the same mandatory guidelines as other industries, and in addition, they must:

  • Place hand sanitizers in high-contact locations
  • Clean high-touch items, such as carts and baskets, after each use  

The Ohio Department of Health also recommends grouping employees by shift to reduce exposure. Further requirements for guests and customers, as well as physical spaces, can be found on the guidance for consumer, retail, and other services page.

Moving Forward:

Should COVID-19 be detected in any of these workplaces, the Ohio Department of Health has stated the following: 

  • Mandatory Actions: 
    • Immediately isolate and seek medical care for any individual who develops symptoms while at work
    • Contact the Local Health District about suspected cases or exposures
    • Shut down shop/floor for deep sanitation if possible
  • Recommended Best Practices
    • Work with your local health department to identify potentially infected or exposed individuals to help facilitate effective contact tracing/notifications
    • Once testing is readily available, test all suspected infections or exposures
    • Following testing, contact your local health department to initiate appropriate care and tracing


Kentucky’s State Reopening Plan: “Healthy at Work” Program

Governor Andy Beshear created “Healthy at Work” – a phased approach to reopen Kentucky’s economy. Based on criteria set by public health experts and advice from industry experts, “Healthy at Work” is a phased approach to returning to “normal.” Phase 1 is a state-readiness evaluation while Phase 2 is a business-readiness evaluation. 

There are ten rules to reopening a business under the “Healthy at Work” plan, which include:

  • Continued telework where possible
  • Phased return to work
  • Onsite temperature/health checks
  • Universal masks and other necessary PPE
  • Closed common areas
  • Enforced social distancing
  • Limited face-to-face meetings
  • Sanitizer/hand wash stations
  • Special accommodations
  • Established testing plan

Phase 1: Beginning Monday, April 27 

During Phase 1 of Healthy at Work, the Governor will determine whether Kentucky has met certain public health benchmarks for reopening Kentucky’s economy. These benchmarks are based on the White House’s Guidelines for Reopening America

Any non-urgent/emergent healthcare services, diagnostic radiology, and lab services were allowed to reopen in the healthcare facilities, such as clinics, hospital outpatient settings, medical offices, and the following:

  • Physical therapy settings
  • Chiropractic offices
  • Optometrists
  • Dental offices (but with enhanced aerosol protections)

While this guidance does not apply to long-term care settings, prisons, other industries, or other settings, separate guidance has already been provided or will be provided in the future.

Phase 2

In Phase 2, economic sectors and individual businesses will be evaluated on their ability to safely reopen. From there, the Governor will gradually begin authorizing certain business sectors to reopen while still maintaining appropriate health and safety measures. Industry groups, trade associations, and individual businesses that are closed due to COVID-19 are encouraged to submit reopen proposals on their behalf and on the behalf of their members to discuss possible strategies and challenges their business or sector will face in safely reopening. 

Individual businesses may submit via the online reopen form. All proposals will be evaluated according to White House guidelines and other public health criteria. 

No business or business association is required to submit such a proposal in order to reopen. Once a sector of business is reopened, all of those businesses will be reopened regardless of if they submitted a proposal, provided that they implement all the necessary health and safety measures recommended.

Note: Businesses that are currently open do not need to submit proposals to remain open, but must comply with new standards set for their industries. Closed businesses or associations representing them are encouraged, but not required, to submit reopen proposals.

If you have questions, email them to

Reopening the Healthcare Economy

The Kentucky Department of Public Health also released its multi-phase plan for reopening the healthcare economy. The four phase plan includes the following:

  • Phase 1: Beginning Monday, April 27, all non-emergent/non-urgent outpatient healthcare services (including diagnostic radiology, laboratory services, physical therapy, chiropractic, dentistry, oral surgery, and more) can resume.
  • Phase 2: Beginning Wednesday, May 6, outpatient/ambulatory surgery and invasive procedures may resume (with COVID-19 pre-procedure testing). All facilities must have a 14 day supply of all necessary PPE.
  • Phase 3: Beginning Wednesday, May 13, non-emergent/non-urgent inpatient surgery and procedures may resume at 50% of pre-COVID-19 shutdown. All facilities must have a 14 day supply of all necessary PPE.
  • Phase 4: Beginning Wednesday, May 27, non-emergent/non-urgent inpatient surgery and procedures may resume at a volume to be determined by individual facilities. All facilities must have a 14 day supply of all necessary PPE.

Testing Sites and Eligibility

In addition to some health care facilities, Kentuckians can now be tested free of charge for COVID-19 at many sites across the commonwealth including Kroger, Walgreens, and college and high school locations. For more information on drive-through testing visit

Unemployment insurance Update

In his announcement on April 27th, Governor Beshear said those who applied for unemployment in March should expect to hear from somebody this week. As claims have reached a peak greater than any time in our history, many individuals are working hard to respond to the claims. In two weeks, the state has gone from receiving and responding to 1,200 calls per day to over 50,000 per day. As of April 27, the current staff working on unemployment claims totaled: 

  • 1,000 people answering phones and working on claims
  • 15 people addressing the backlog of unpaid claims
  • 250 people working on adjudication, appeals, e-claims, etc.
  • 200 people working on Tier 2 and 3
  • Over 20 staffers from three different Cabinets and the Governor’s Office are helping


Indiana – “Be Well Indiana” and Other Resources

On April 24, 2020, the Indiana government released Guidance for Employers During the COVID-19 Response. At this time, there has been no further guidance regarding Indiana’s state reopening plan. 

On Monday, April 27, Indiana released a few resources and initiatives, the first being the Be Well Indiana” resource. This site was created to help support mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The second being the SNAP-Pandemic Initiative, which was created to support children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches.

Finally, Indiana launched a map of  COVID-19 testing sites located throughout the state.  These sites were released on 4/27/20.


During these uncertain times, be sure to check out our Employer’s Resource Guide to the Coronavirus which is updated regularly to help you navigate your business through the challenges you are facing. Still have questions? Contact us – our HR experts are here to help!