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Current Local, State and Federal Guidelines and Orders Relating to COVID-19

March 22, 2020Client Alert

Updated as of March 22, 2020 at 4:00 P.M.

This article summarizes current local, state, and federal guidelines and orders relating to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Specifically, this summary focuses on mandated closures and restrictions on gatherings or other business activities in the Greater Los Angeles area (including federal and state orders that impact the area).

This is a rapidly changing situation and a serious public health crisis. Guidelines and restrictions will continue to evolve and change in the coming weeks or months.

As further detailed below, the main restrictions for the Greater Los Angeles area as of March 22, 2020 are:

  • All residents must remain at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of essential businesses and other limited exceptions, including outdoor activities.
  • Closure of all non-essential businesses, including most retailers, bars, nightclubs, restaurants (except takeout, delivery, and drive-thru), entertainment venues, and gyms.
  • Ban on all gatherings outside a residence, as well as restrictions requiring social distancing and adequate handwashing/sanitizing stations for exempted gatherings and essential businesses.

CALIFORNIA RESTRICTIONS & GUIDELINES

On March 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On March 19, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order N-33-20 (the “State Order”). The order mandates that all individuals living in the State of California stay home except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.

The exempt sectors are:

  • Healthcare / Public Health
  • Emergency Services
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions
  • Critical Manufacturing (i.e., manufacturing needed to maintain essential industries)
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base

The State Order sets forth the following policy of the State of California: “The supply chain must continue, and Californians must have access to such necessities as food, prescriptions, and health care. When people need to leave their homes or places of residence, whether to obtain or perform the functions above, or to otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities, they should at all times practice social distancing.” The State has offered additional clarification of the policy; in particular, California has also exempted critical industries like childcare and construction (including housing construction).

Notably, many e-commerce retailers and their logistics and supply chains may continue to operate, provided that they practice social distancing. As discussed in greater detail in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Order, these social distancing measures include enforcing physical separation of at least 6 feet between employees, providing adequate handwashing and/or hand sanitizing, and posting signage advising employees to stay home if they feel sick or exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.

While local orders may impose additional restrictions, local authorities may not loosen the restrictions of the State Order.

LOS ANGELES RESTRICTIONS & GUIDELINES

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued the “Safer at Home Order for Control of COVID-19” for the County of Los Angeles (the “County Order”). Simultaneously, Mayor Garcetti issued the “Safer at Home” order for the City of Los Angeles (the “City Order”). The two orders include similar restrictions and will both continue through April 19, 2020. The County Order was updated on March 21, 2020 to comply with the State Order (the “Revised County Order”).

These restrictions are in addition to the statewide restrictions described above—any activity that is prohibited by the State Order but permitted by the City or County Orders remains prohibited.

Individual Restrictions & Restrictions on Gatherings

The City Order and the Revised County Order ban all public and private gatherings of any number of people

Under the City Order, individuals are expected to remain in their homes except to engage in the following: (1) visiting healthcare providers and obtaining medicine or food; (2) caring for friends, family, or the needy; (3) outdoor activities; and (4) work in support of essential businesses. Restaurants that remain open for delivery, takeout, and drive-thru are required to implement social distancing.

The Revised County Order similarly requires all persons to remain in their places of residence, except to travel to and from essential businesses, to work at or provide service to a healthcare operation or essential infrastructure, to engage in essential activities, or to participate in outdoor activities, all while practicing social distancing.

Business Restrictions

Both orders require the closure of malls, shopping centers, children’s playgrounds, and non-essential retail businesses. Both orders further require all businesses to cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers, aside from exempted essential businesses (discussed below).

“Essential Businesses” are exempted from closure. The full list of essential businesses is defined in each order, but generally includes healthcare providers, grocery stores, restaurants (take out, delivery, and drive-thru only), media services, automotive and gas stations, various types of maintenance and custodial workers, educational institutions, shipping and delivery services, transportation services, businesses that supply or service other essential businesses, and critical infrastructure (among many others).

Determining whether a business function constitutes “essential business” is a fact-based inquiry, and companies are advised to minimize in-person company functions to the greatest extent possible and abide by social distancing protocols.

All essential businesses must enforce social distancing and other protocols, including: (1) separating members of the public by a minimum of 6 feet; (2) providing access to handwashing facilities and/or hand sanitizer; (3) posting signage instructing members of the public not to attend if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever or cough; and (4) adhering to all other recommendations provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Other Orders

In the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti has also ordered a moratorium on evictions for both residential and commercial renters through March 31. In relevant part, the order states that “[n]o landlord shall evict a commercial tenant in the City of Los Angeles during this local emergency period if the tenant is able to show an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These circumstances include loss of business income due to a COVID-19 related workplace closure, child care expenditures due to school closures, health care expenses related to being ill with COVID-19 or caring for a member of the tenant’s household who is ill with COVID-19, or reasonable expenditures that stem from government-ordered emergency measures.”

The Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court has continued all non-emergency matters, suspending all civil and criminal trials through at least April 16 and closing the Court to all non-emergency matters.

FEDERAL GUIDELINES

The White House has issued guidelines encouraging individuals to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. The White House further advised that, in areas with community transmission (which includes most or all of California), school operations should be closed, older people should self-isolate, and bars, restaurants, and entertainment or other public venues should be closed.

The Center for Disease Control has issued interim guidance for businesses, recommending that sick employees stay home and that businesses perform routine cleaning and sterilization of office.

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Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys at Greenberg Glusker.