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Businesses finding loopholes to remain open during Ohio's stay-at-home order

A lot of places you would think should be closed are technically allowed to keep operating.
Credit: 3News

CLEVELAND — It sounds good in theory, but it's nowhere near reailty.

Despite a 12-page stay-at-home order from the Ohio Department of Health for everyone but essential businesses, just about every business is finding a way around it. In just the last day, I have received emails from people saying their employers are remaining open even though they are not "essential"; I'm talking companies that make toys (like Little Tykes in Hudson) to car washes.

We stopped by Wheely Clean Car Wash in Parma for an explanation. They claimed to be a "vehicle maintenance shop" (protected under the order). According to the North American Industry Classification System, they are technically correct.

There were also emails about design and remodeling companies, places that make pet collars and leashes (not food), and landscapers. We even found an open pawn shop, also in Parma.

"They said banks are open," one worker told us. When we told them they weren't a bank, the response was, "It's close, though!"

Sure enough, the Ohio Revised Code says it is close enough, meaning they are in the clear (for now).

"The economy is certainly a concern," Kevin Brennan from the Cuyahoga County Department of Health said. "Since we can only interpret what the state wants, we need more guidance going forward."

There are laws if you break these so-called rules, with the penalties being up to 90 days in jail or a $750 fine. However, it seems it will be awfully hard to prove a company is a "law-breaker."

"Everything can be deemed essential in the mind of s person who owns the business," attorney Joe Diemert told us.

Workers who are concerned are encouraged to complain to the state health department, but given its currently focused on getting crucial equipment to save lives, cracking down on most companies will likely take a backseat.

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