As local jurisdictions attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and “flatten the curve,” several Northern and Central California counties have updated their existing shelter-in-place orders to impose more restrictions on employers and company operations. Employers should immediately prepare for compliance with the new protocols, some of which take effect on April 2.
On March 16, six San Francisco Bay Area Counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara—issued shelter-in-place orders that required residents to stay at their homes from March 17 through April 7, 2020. These orders only allowed residents to leave their homes to engage in “essential activities,” such as grocery shopping or seeking medical care, or to work at one of the listed “essential businesses.”
On March 31, these counties all issued updated orders that supersede the prior orders. They contain stricter requirements and extend the shelter-in-place directives through May 3, 2020. As part of these stricter requirements, the updated orders modify the list of essential businesses to exclude
The updated orders add as essential businesses
Additionally, the updated orders provide that businesses that include an essential business component at their facilities alongside nonessential components must, to the extent feasible, reduce their operations to the essential business component only.
Critically, these amended orders also require essential businesses to prepare and post, in a location easily viewable by the public and employees, a “Social Distancing Protocol” by no later than 11:59 pm on April 2, 2020. The Social Distancing Protocol must explain how the business is achieving the following, if applicable:
The orders state that the Social Distancing Protocol must be in substantially the form attached to each order; see the example from the County of San Francisco order. A copy must be provided to each employee performing work at the facility. All essential businesses must implement the Social Distancing Protocol and provide evidence of its implementation to any authority upon demand.
Failure to comply with the updated orders is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
As of March 31, at least five counties in Central and Northern California—Fresno, Madera, Mariposa Mono, and Tuolumne—now mandate medical screenings daily of each employee reporting to the workplace. While these orders differ slightly in their requirements, all in one form or another require the following:
Employers immediately should review the updated San Francisco Bay Area orders to ensure compliance with the essential business and minimum operations requirements. In addition, if not already done, employers in these six counties should immediately prepare and implement the required Social Distancing Protocols. Morgan Lewis has prepared template protocols and we are available to assist.
Further, with the rapid spread of COVID-19, we anticipate that other counties beyond the five Central and Northern California counties listed above likely will impose similar medical screening requirements. Employers should prepare to implement such screening to the extent not already done so.
For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Daryl S. Landy