In the last few days, California’s most populous cities and counties have issued broad-sweeping guidelines to businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced social distancing measures.  These orders, most of which last through the end of March or early April, vary significantly in scope and severity.

On March 15, 2020, the City of Los Angeles issued an order requiring the following businesses to cease normal operations, beginning on March 16th, subject to very narrow exceptions:

  • All bars and nightclubs that do not serve food;
  • All movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys, and arcades;
  • All gyms and fitness centers; and
  • All private social clubs.

Los Angeles’ order, which runs through March 31st, also prohibits all restaurants and retail food facilities from serving food to dine-in customers.

On March 16, 2020, San Diego County issued an amended order, that takes effect today (March 17th) and runs through the end of the month.  Most relevant to employers, it:

  • Prohibits all public gatherings;
  • Orders all bars, adult entertainment establishments and other business that serve alcohol but not food to close;
  • Prohibits restaurants and other business that sell food from operating any on-site dining and requires all food to be served by delivery, pick-up or drive-through options; and
  • Requires all businesses to enact social distancing, increased sanitation standards and “make every effort to use telecommuting” for their workforces; business must suspend any policy or procedure requiring employees to furnish documentation from healthcare providers for sick or other leave approval.

San Francisco and surrounding areas, arguably hit the hardest by COVID-19, have taken the most extreme measures.  On March 16, 2020, the Public health officers of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties announced, along with the City of Berkeley, a legal order directing their respective residents to shelter at home for three weeks, beginning March 17.  Among other restrictions, these jurisdictions’ orders:

  • Require that all businesses, except “Essential Businesses,” cease all operations at their facilities, except for “Minimum Basic Operations;” employees may work from their residences;
  • Prohibit all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a household or living unit, subject to very narrow exceptions; and
  • Require that individuals maintain a minimum of six feet between each other when interacting outside of their residences.

To date, Fresno and Sacramento Counties have not issued similarly broad-sweeping orders, though they may do so in the coming days.  We will keep readers updated.