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Gov. Newsom Issues Guidance People over the age of 65 and those with Chronic Health Conditions Should Self Isolate and Calls for Closure of Some Businesses; LA Mandates Certain Business Closures; The CDC Issues New Recommendation Against Gatherings of 50
On March 15, 2020, Governor Newsom held a press conference where he made a further announcement regarding provisions for the public to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. As a consideration, in order to protect the most vulnerable, which includes elders 65 and older, he stated that he was calling for the home isolation of all seniors and people with chronic conditions. While he did not describe what that means, it is likely that he means that people 65 and older and those with chronic conditions should not leave their house, given that he discussed that his task force would be working on logistics and the provision of wraparound services, including delivering food.
Governor Newsom gave a strongly worded request, in the interest of public health that people over the age of 65 and those with chronic conditions should not go to work. Although the guidance was not an order, schools will need to be aware that employees over the age of 65 and people with chronic conditions may legitimately feel the need to self-quarantine. Schools may also consider pro-actively informing their employees that those who are 65 and older, or those who have chronic health conditions, may work remotely or request time off based on Governor Newsom’s guidance.
LCW recommends that if employees who are 65 or older or those with chronic health conditions state that they plan to self-quarantine, and not come to work, these employees can use sick leave or other leave balances. Currently there is no other mandatory leave that schools must provide. If the current version of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act for expansion of the Family Leave Rights Act (FMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave, these employees will likely not qualify for FMLA leave and Paid Sick Leave. This may change depending on the final language of the Act and whether it is signed into law.
On the other hand, if an employee who is 65 and older, or an employee with a chronic health condition, wants to work and poses no health threat, employers should not require them to stay home. Schools may not discriminate against employees based on their age, disability, or medical condition, and requiring employees in these protected categories not to come to work could be considered discriminatory.
Governor Newsom also stated that 51% of the school districts have shut down. On Tuesday, March 17th, Governor Newsom stated that he will be putting out detailed guidelines for schools that remain open and those that are closed. LCW will publish a Special Bulletin on these guidelines when they are issued.
In addition to calling for the home isolation of all seniors and people with chronic conditions, Governor Newsom requested that all nightclubs, bars, wineries, brew pubs be closed. The Governor also asked restaurants to reduce their capacity by 50% and to implement social distancing of patrons in restaurants.
On March 15, 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced that all bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, and restaurants were ordered to close at midnight through March 31st, but that restaurants and bars could continue to provide take-out services.
On March 15, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance recommending the cancellation or postponement of all in-person events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks due to COVID-19. The CDC also recommends that events of any size only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. The CDC recommends that when feasible, organizers modify events to be virtual. The CDC clarified that these recommendations do not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.