COVID-19: California to Begin Reopening Businesses
Resilience Roadmap Charts Course for Workplaces and Counties
Today, California enters Stage 2 of the COVID-19 Resilience Roadmap, modifying the initial stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19. This movement into Stage 2 will allow certain workplaces designated as lower-risk by the State to gradually reopen with adaptations and gives counties the ability to reopen businesses at a faster pace if certain requirements are met. The Governor’s Office also released updated guidance clarifying questions about the essential workforce and providing information regarding other changes that will be implemented as a result of moving into Stage 2.
The four-stage Resilience Roadmap followed the first stay-at-home orders to provide California’s businesses, workers and local governments an indication of when the coronavirus stay home directives would be altered.
Requirements for Reopening Stage 2-Designated Workplaces
Workplaces will have to meet certain standards to reopen. Before reopening, all facilities must carry out the following actions:
- Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan.
- Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them.
- Implement individual control measures and screenings.
- Implement disinfecting protocols.
- Implement physical distancing guidelines.
To assist with these requirements, California issued guidance on an industry-by-industry basis coupled with industry-specific checklists to guide the process. However, it should be noted that not every industry where guidance has been issued can be reopened in Stage 2. At this time, only workplaces that the State designated as lower-risk can reopen, with some modifications. As of today, those designations are limited to the following businesses:
- Curbside retail, including but not limited to: stores that sell books, jewelry, toys, clothes,, shoes, home furnishings, sporting goods, antiques, music and flowers. However, retail establishment openings will be phased-in, starting first with curbside pickup and delivery until the State indicates otherwise.
- Supply chains supporting the above State-designated lower-risk businesses, in manufacturing and logistical sectors.
Additional workplaces were designated to open at a later time during Stage 2. These workplaces include:
- Destination retail, including shopping malls and swap meets
- Personal services, limited to: car washes, pet grooming, tanning facilities and landscape gardening
- Office-based business (telework will remain strongly encouraged)
- Dine-in restaurants (other facility amenities, like bars or gaming areas, will not be permitted)
- Schools and childcare facilities
- Outdoor museums and open gallery spaces
The workplaces designated to open later in Stage 2 will only be able to open if the State approves of the opening of these workplaces or the county in which workplaces of this type are located meet the criteria set by the California Department of Public Health for a variance to accelerate reopening.
Requirements for County Variance
A county that has met certain criteria in containing COVID-19, explained in detail here, may consider increasing the pace at which they advance through Stage 2. However, at this time, the Governor is still prohibiting counties from accelerating into Stage 3 of the Resilience Roadmap. If a county decides to pursue a variance, the local public health officer must:
- Notify the CDPH and engage in a phone consultation regarding the county’s intent to seek a variance and
- Certify through the submission of a written attestation to CDPH that the county has met the readiness criteria designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In order to satisfy the readiness criteria, the county must attest and provide information relating to: the epidemiological stability of COVID-19, the protection of Stage 1 essential workers, testing capacity, containment capacity, hospital capacity, vulnerable populations, sectors and timelines, triggers for adjusting modifications and the county’s plan for moving through Stage 2. The attestation in large part involves logistical and planning measures, but under the epidemiologic stability factor, the county’s data must show that:
- There is no more than one COVID-19 case per 10,000 people in the county in the past 14 days prior to the attestation submission date.
- There has been no COVID-19 deaths in the county in the past 14 days prior to the attestation submission date.
Counties throughout the State have been anticipating the release of the Resilience Roadmap to begin the reopening process. However, while the Roadmap provides a framework for counties to obtain a variance to accelerate, the State is also allowing counties to reopen at a slower pace. Indeed, public health officers from seven Bay Area counties released a statement that their respective shelter-in-place guidelines would remain in place until the end of this month.
Workplaces Falling Outside Stage 1 and 2 Will Remain Closed
The State’s newly issued guidance also designates certain workplaces as high-risk, meaning that they fall outside of Stage 1 or Stage 2 and will remain closed until further notice. They include:
- Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios
- Hospitality services, such as bars, wineries, tasting rooms and lounges
- Entertainment venues with limited capacities, such as movie theaters, gaming facilities and pro sports (without live audiences)
- Indoor museums, kids museums and gallery spaces, zoos (without events or shows) and libraries
- Community centers, including public pools (but excluding water parks), playgrounds and picnic areas
- Religious services and cultural ceremonies
- Concert venues
- Theme parks
- Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism
For more information or any questions regarding the reopening process, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Municipal Law and Special District practice groups or your BB&K attorney.
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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.