Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a framework for gradually reopening the state of California, with certain low-risk businesses being able to open as early as May 8, 2020 (Executive Order N-60-20). As we previously reported, the governor issued an order on March 19, 2020, which closed all non-essential businesses and instructed residents to stay home except for essential needs. The stay home order remains in effect, but the new order outlines a plan for reopening low and high risk businesses in four stages (Stage 1: Safety and Preparedness; Stage 2: Low Risk Workplaces; Stage 3: Higher Risk Workplaces; and Stage 4: End of Stay at Home Order). The governor also issued a state report card, which measures certain key health metrics, and stated that the metrics related to COVID-19 (coronavirus) must stay at a certain level in order for the gradual reopening to continue.
Under the governor’s new order, the state is ready to move into “early Stage 2,” which will allow some low risk workplaces to reopen if they can meet certain guidelines provided by the state. Industry-specific guidance has been issued for a variety of sectors identified as low risk workplaces, including: agriculture and livestock; construction; food packing and processing; logistics and warehousing facilities; manufacturing; mining and logging; and office workspaces. However, before any facility can reopen, it must first perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan. The new order allows counties to move more quickly through Stage 2, if they attest that they can meet the state’s readiness criteria, and create a readiness plan that it makes publicly available. Counties also have the option to impose greater restrictions than those required by the state.
Many businesses aren’t permitted to open during early Stage 2, such as seated dining at restaurants, shopping malls, and schools. Some of these businesses will be included in late Stage 2, though. Check the state’s COVID-19 resource page to review the newly issued guidance and evaluate how to modify your workplace to comply with the new requirements. For the latest information, or to discuss how the governor’s new order impacts your business, talk with your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.