• September 22, 2020

Compliance with California’s New Blueprint for a Safer Economy

Compliance with California’s New Blueprint for a Safer Economy

Compliance with California’s New Blueprint for a Safer Economy 150 150 Business & Worker Disaster Help Center
By the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in partnership with Bet Tzedek Legal Services

UPDATED Dec. 1, 2020

Note: These FAQs provide general guidance on how small businesses in the Los Angeles area can comply with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and reopening procedures. Each business owner must carefully evaluate the applicable orders to determine the compliance steps required for their individual business. This document does not constitute legal advice.

General Reminders

  • The current COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation. Governmental and private actors continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on small businesses and others, and new programs (or changes to existing ones) continue to develop. The recent increase in COVID-19 rates in California has resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions on non-essential business operations in the Los Angeles area. The current stay-at-home orders in effect in the Los Angeles area will continue to be modified as the situation changes over the coming weeks and months. Check reliable sources (see list at the end for some suggestions) for updates. A general roadmap of the reopening process can be found here.
  • It is important that your business comply with all applicable stay-at-home orders and reopening requirements, including those issued at the state, county and city levels. Carefully evaluate the requirements of each applicable order to ensure that your business operations are in full compliance.

Q: Which stay-at-home orders apply to my business?

Businesses in the greater Los Angeles area must comply with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and related rules issued by the State of California, the County of Los Angeles and the government of the City or Cities in which they are located.

The statewide and countywide orders do not preempt stricter rules imposed at the city level. You should therefore review the requirements of each applicable order and ensure that you operate your business in compliance with each of them.

Q: What’s in the California statewide stay-at-home order?

On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 directing all California residents to stay home except as needed to maintain critical infrastructure sectors. Since the original order was issued, the statewide rules have been gradually modified to allow certain additional non-essential businesses to reopen on a county-by-county basis. On August 29, 2020, Governor Newsom released an overhauled statewide reopening plan called the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” General information about the new reopening plan can be found here. Most recently, on November 19, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued a Limited Stay at Home Order prohibiting non-essential businesses in “Widespread” (purple tier) counties, including Los Angeles County, from operating between the hours of 10:00pm and 5:00am PST.

1. Essential Businesses: Businesses classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure” are exempt from the order and may remain open. Examples of exempt businesses include gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and essential government functions. A full list of businesses deemed “essential” under the statewide order can be found here.

2. Non-Essential Businesses: Under the original statewide order, all California businesses classified as non-essential were required to close all in-person operations. Examples of non-essential businesses include dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues, gyms and hair salons. Certain non-essential businesses have now been allowed to reopen on a county-by-county basis pursuant to the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” reopening plan described below.

3. Blueprint for a Safer Economy: Governor Newsom’s new COVID-19 reopening plan, the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” revises the criteria and procedures for loosening restrictions on certain business activities on a county-by-county basis. The prior reopening plan placed restrictions on certain counties listed on a statewide County Monitoring List. The new reopening plan eliminates the County Monitoring List and instead classifies counties into four color-based groupings based on current COVID-19 rates:

A county’s assigned color, ranging from purple for “Widespread” cases to yellow for “Minimal” cases, determines the reopening restrictions and procedures applicable to businesses in that county. A detailed chart of reopening rules by color tier can be found here, and more information about the county classification process can be found here.

The new reopening plan also contains revised criteria for counties to move forward to a less restrictive color classification. At a minimum, counties must remain in each tier for at least three weeks and must meet the next tier’s criteria for at least two weeks before moving into that tier. The state has created an online tool to check the current restrictions that apply to your business under the new reopening plan. You can visit this website and enter your business type and county to view the current status (but it is important to remember that you must also comply with applicable county and city rules, which may be stricter than the statewide rules).

4. Limited Stay at Home Order: In response to the recent increase in COVID-19 rates in California, the California Department of Health issued a Limited Stay at Home Order applicable to all counties in the purple or “Widespread” tier under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy classification scheme. Effective as of November 21, 2020, non-essential businesses in those counties may not operate between the hours of 10:00pm and 5:00am PST. This Limited Stay at Home Order currently applies to businesses in Los Angeles County. More information about the Limited Stay at Home Order can be found here.

Q: What’s in the Los Angeles County stay-at-home order?

Los Angeles County issued a Temporary Targeted Safer at Home Health Order (“Temporary LA County Order”) on November 28, 2020, which re-imposes certain restrictions on non-essential business activities in response to increasing COVID-19 rates in the county. The Temporary LA County Order is stricter than the current statewide order and imposes additional restrictions on non-essential business operations in Los Angeles County through December 20, 2020. The full text of the temporary county order can be found here. (Note that the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, although located within Los Angeles County, are not subject to the Temporary LA County Order. Businesses in these cities should instead refer to orders and guidance issued by their respective City Health Officers.)

1. Essential Businesses: Essential businesses in Los Angeles County are allowed to remain open during the period covered by the Temporary LA County Order, but must implement and maintain a Social Distancing Protocol, which can be found here (non-essential businesses must follow separate reopening protocols, as discussed below). Los Angeles County operates an online Business & Worker Disaster Help Center, which is available to assist businesses in determining whether they qualify as “essential” under the Temporary LA County Order. The Help Center can be accessed here. An FAQ sheet with additional guidance from the county can be found here.

2. Higher-Risk Non-Essential Businesses: All non-essential businesses classified as “Higher-Risk” businesses under the Temporary LA County Order must close through December 20, 2020. Businesses classified as Higher-Risk include bars, movie theaters, restaurants (for onsite dining), playgrounds, and events and gatherings.

3. Lower-Risk Non-Essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses not classified as Higher-Risk may remain open during the period covered by the Temporary LA County Order, subject to certain operational restrictions. The applicable operational restrictions vary based on the type of business, but generally include: (1) for indoor operations, indoor capacity must be limited to 20% of maximum occupancy and (2) Lower-Risk non-essential businesses must close between the hours of 10:00pm and 5:00am PST pursuant to the statewide Limited Stay at Home Order (described above). Lower-Risk non-essential businesses include retail, manufacturing and logistics businesses that support retail, indoor malls and shopping centers, restaurants providing take-out and delivery services, and hair salons and barbershops.

Lower-Risk non-essential businesses remaining open during the Temporary LA County Order must adhere to the applicable county protocol, as listed below. These protocols address operational restrictions and safety requirements such as social distancing, cloth facemasks, and building occupancy limits. Lower-Risk non-essential businesses should carefully review the applicable protocol to make sure all requirements are met. The full list of reopening protocols can be found here. Reopening toolkits for certain business sectors are currently being updated to reflect the new Temporary LA County Order and will be accessible here once complete.

a. Non-essential retail businesses reopening for in-person shopping must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Retail Establishments: Opening for In Person Shopping, which can be found here.

b. Manufacturing and logistics businesses that support non-essential retail businesses must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Warehousing, Manufacturing and Logistic Establishments, which can be found here.

c. Non-essential office-based businesses must cease all indoor in-person operations until further notice, except for activities necessary to carry out Minimum Basic Operations. Any in-person operations must comply with the Reopening Protocol for Office Worksites, which can be found here.

d. Places of worship must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Places of Worship, which can be found here.

e. Indoor malls and shopping centers must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocols for Shopping Center Operators, which can be found here. Higher-Risk non-essential businesses within indoor malls and shopping centers must remain closed.

f. Personal care establishments, including hair salons and barbershops, must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Personal Care Establishments, which can be found here.

g. Restaurants providing take-out or delivery services must prepare, implement and follow the Protocol for Restaurants, which can be found here.

h. Music, television and film production must prepare, implement and follow the Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production, which can be found here.

i. Gyms and other fitness facilities must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Gyms and Fitness Establishments, which can be found here.

j. Museums and galleries must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Museums, Galleries, Zoos, and Aquariums, which can be found here.

k. Campgrounds and RV parks must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Campgrounds, RV parks, and Cabin Rental Units, which can be found here.

l. Hotels, lodging and short-term rental services must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Hotels, Lodging and Short-Term Rentals, which can be found here.

4. Cloth Mask Requirement: The Social Distancing Protocol (for essential businesses) and reopening protocols (for non-essential businesses) require employers in Los Angeles County to provide cloth facemasks to all employees whose duties require contact with other employees and/or the public.

Q: What’s in the City of Los Angeles stay-at-home order?

On November 25, Mayor Garcetti issued a revised stay-at-home emergency order (the “City Order”) that generally aligns with the Temporary LA County Order described above. The full text of the City Order can be found here.

1. Essential Businesses: The City Order allows essential businesses to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency, subject to the operational restrictions set forth in the county order (as described above). The City Order’s classification of essential and non-essential businesses aligns with the county and statewide orders. An FAQ sheet and more detailed guidance for businesses under the City Order can be found here and here.

2. Non-Essential Businesses: The restrictions placed on non-essential businesses by the City Order align with those of the Temporary LA County Order. Non-essential businesses classified as Higher-Risk under the Temporary LA County Order are required to close, while Lower-Risk non-essential businesses may reopen subject to the restrictions set forth in the county order and the applicable county protocols.

Additionally, public-facing businesses, including retail stores and restaurants, must comply with the following notice requirements under the City Order:

a. The applicable county protocol must be posted at or near the entrance to the facility so that it is easily viewable by the public and employees;
b. Copies of the protocol must be provided to each employee performing work at the facility; and
c. The business must be able to provide evidence that the applicable protocol is being implemented.

3. Cloth Mask Requirement: Pursuant to the City Order and a separate Worker Protection Order (which can be found here), businesses conducting in-person operations in the City of Los Angeles must require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings. These businesses must provide their employees with face coverings at the employer’s expense and employees must be permitted to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer at least every 30 minutes. Businesses may refuse service to any customer not wearing a face covering.

Q: Are in-person religious services allowed?

Places of worship in the greater Los Angeles area generally are not exempt from compliance, and thus must comply, with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and related rules issued by the State of California, the County of Los Angeles and the government of the city or cities in which they are located.

1. Statewide Rules: Under the new statewide reopening plan, the reopening restrictions applicable to places of worship vary based on the color-based classification of the county in which they are located (as further described above). In counties classified in the purple or “Widespread” category, including Los Angeles County, places of worship may only open for outdoor services with certain restrictions. In counties classified in lower color tiers, places of worship may open for indoor services with capacity restrictions. Guidelines and restrictions regarding places of worship under the statewide order can be found here and here.

2. Los Angeles County Rules: Places of worship in Los Angeles County must comply with the statewide guidelines referenced above. As of November 28, 2020, because Los Angeles County is classified in the purple or “Widespread” tier under the statewide order, places of worship may only open for outdoor services subject to certain restrictions. For allowable activities, places of worship must refer to the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Places of Worship, which can be found here.

3. City of Los Angeles Rules: Places of worship in the City of Los Angeles must also comply with the Los Angeles County protocols and statewide guidelines referenced above. Thus, as of November 28, 2020, places of worship in the City of Los Angeles may only open for outdoor services subject to certain restrictions. Also, places of worship must refer to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department for the required protocols for allowable activity at this time, which can be found here.

Q: What if my business is in a different county or city?

Owners of businesses located outside of Los Angeles County should contact their county health department for information on any applicable county stay-at-home orders. Not all counties have issued stay-at-home orders. Links to county-level COVID-19 guidance and orders can be found here.

Owners of businesses located in a city other than Los Angeles (whether within or outside of Los Angeles County) should contact their city mayor’s office or health department for information on any applicable city stay-at-home orders. Not all cities have issued stay-at-home orders.

Additionally, the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, although located within Los Angeles County, are not subject to the Temporary LA County Order. Businesses in these cities should instead refer to orders and guidance issued by their respective City Health Officers.

Q: Where should I look for updates to the stay-at-home orders?

1. Find statewide updates here.

2. Find Los Angeles County updates here.

3. Find City of Los Angeles updates here.

Q: What resources are available if my business is adversely impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic?

The County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs has partnered with the Department of Workforce, Development, Aging, and Community Services, and other County and State agencies to bring you the L.A. County Disaster Help Center. The center has resources for businesses as well as employees to help during the COVID-19 emergency.

Counselors are available Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to help business owners navigate emergency loan applications and help individuals that were recently laid off due to this emergency. Multilingual help is available.

Contact the Disaster Help Center:
• Call (833) 238-4450
• Visit LACountyHelpCenter.org
• Email DisasterHelpCenter@lacounty.gov

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest updates, @LACHelpCenter.

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