COVID-19 and Ohio Freemasonry

Situation Summary:

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The first Ohio cases were identified in Cuyahoga County on March 9, 2020. Symptoms, which generally appear two to 14 days after exposure, include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Most people who become sick do not require hospitalization.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) recommends the following precautions:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes COVID-19 more severely affects older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes). These individuals are advised to avoid large, public gatherings during the spread of the disease.

Depending on the severity of the spread in our area, public health officials may recommend postponing or canceling community actions to limit further spreading. Lodges should treat such recommendations with the same seriousness they give to other emergencies such as a Level 3 ban from driving during snowstorms. The Grand Lodge would never expect a Lodge to violate a public safety directive. We also ask that Lodges take measures to clean regularly to ensure they do not incubate any illness unintentionally.

The Ohio Department of Health has set up a call center to answer your questions regarding COVID-19. The call center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Current Updates:
Friday, July 24

In a letter distributed today, our Grand Master has outlined Plans 1 and 2 for this year’s Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge. Fundamental to both plans is that attendance will be limited and voting will be conducted virtually. More information will be provided as we approach the date of the event.

Friday, July 17

By edict of our Grand Master, in-person Masonic activity is now dependent on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System as follows:

  • Level 1 (yellow) In-person Masonic activity is permitted.
  • Level 2 (orange) In-person Masonic activity is permitted.
  • Level 3 (red) In-person Masonic activity is permitted at the discretion of the Worshipful Master. If the Worshipful Master decides to cancel a Stated Meeting, a Virtual Stated Meeting may be held instead. Refer to Edict 2020-10 for instructions.
  • Level 4 (purple) All in-person Masonic activity must be cancelled. Virtual Stated Meetings may be held instead. Refer to Edict 2020-10 for instructions.

Please refer to the live map below for your county’s current status:


Wednesday, July 8th

As of today, our Deputy Grand Master has cancelled his in-person Roll Out Programs for the year. An alternative means of communicating this important information will be communicated when available.

Thursday, June 11th

By Edict of our Grand Master, Lodges are permitted to hold Grand Master’s Classes to confer Degrees upon candidates until further notice.

Wednesday, June 10th

Our Grand Master has provided an edict allowing Lodges to meet during July and August, if otherwise restricted by their bylaws.

Friday, June 5th

By Edict of our Grand Master, Masonic activity in Ohio will resume starting Wednesday, June 10th. Please review the linked Edict for information on:

  • Expectations for Safe Ohio Masonic Lodge practices
  • Expectations for members of the Grand Lodge of Ohio
  • Ritual work revisions
  • Virtual Meeting revisions
Friday, May 29th

By Edict of our Grand Master, cancellation of all Masonic activity has been extended through June 12th.

Monday, May 5th

By Edict of our Grand Master, cancellation of all Masonic activity has been extended through May 31st.
More information can be found in our Grand Master’s follow-up letter.

Wednesday, April 22nd

Our Grand Master’s Reception has been postponed until further notice. Please continue to send in your checks for tickets and booklet advertisements. In the event that the event is cancelled, checks will be returned accordingly.

Sunday, April 5th

Effective Monday, April 6th, all Ohio Masonic Lodges are permitted to conduct virtual Stated Meetings. More information on how to properly conduct a virtual Stated Meeting in this manner is provided in this linked Dispensation.

Notes:

  • Ritual work of any type or nature, candidate examinations, and candidate balloting are not permitted.
  • Masonic Funeral Services, if scheduled, are permitted at the request of the family and with members who volunteer to be present and maintain social distancing.
  • This Dispensation is intended to provide a temporary alternate method for a Lodge to hold Stated meetings only. It does not limit any other individually organized virtual fellowship activities we all enjoy. This Dispensation will remain in effect and will not expire until further notice when the permission for groups to meet in person is granted.
Monday, March 16

Effectively immediately, our Grand Master has declared all Lodge activities, including but not limited to Stated Meetings, Annual Inspections, Ceremonies, Grand Master Receptions, the Grand Masters Class event and Special Meetings of all Ohio Lodges holding allegiance under the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio to be CANCELLED through May 10, 2020. The following directives will support continued business during this period where meetings are restricted:

  • All usual and customary bills for utilities, taxes, and services acted upon by the Lodge can be approved with consent of the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Secretary and Treasurer during this period. Phone or email are acceptable modes of communication and should be recorded by the Secretary.
  • No Lodge will be disciplined for not meeting the minimum required meetings according to our Code this Masonic year due to this national pandemic.

This directive applies to all Masonic Lodges, their craft clubs, committees, Temple Companies, social events, and District Associations. These guidelines and directives apply to all Ohio Masons including appendant Ohio Masonic orders.

We will continue to provide regular updates to these guidelines as changes develop. Meetings and events will be rescheduled at a future time.