State Issues New Guidance For Reopening Of Businesses And Office Spaces

CATEGORY: Special Bulletins
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers, Public Safety
PUBLICATION: LCW Special Bulletin
DATE: May 13, 2020

On May 12, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that two counties—Butte and El Dorado—satisfied state readiness criteria under Phase 2 of the state’s Reopening Plan, and would be permitted to authorize the reopening of certain businesses in those jurisdictions.

Since the initial announcement, 14 additional counties have certified that they meet state readiness criteria under Phase 2. As other counties qualify to reopen now-closed businesses in the coming weeks, it imperative that public agencies, particularly those that have closed non-essential portions of their operations, begin to consider how to reopen, and how to do so safely.

Governor Newsom’s May 12 announcement is the latest in a series of incremental steps that he has taken to reopen the state since his issuance of the stay home order on March 19, 2020. Last month, Governor Newsom outlined a four phase reopening plan.  Last week, Governor Newsom announced that the state would be entering into Phase 2 of that plan on May 8, and that the state would begin to allow office workspaces and other industries to reopen later in Phase 2.  Now, the California Department of Public Health indicates that office-based business may reopen, but that for such business teleworking is strongly encouraged.

On May 11, in advance of the Governor’s announcement, the State Department of Public Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“Cal-OSHA”) released guidance concerning how employers in different industries can provide safe and healthy workplaces for their employees.

The office spaces sector is of most direct application and import to public agencies. The state guidance for reopening office spaces covers a number of important topics, including the creation of worksite-specific plans, COVID-19 screening and control measures, cleaning and disinfecting protocols as well as employee training. However, the guidance is not limited to office workspaces, and provides health and safety recommendations for other industries, including child care, construction, energy and utilities, ports, and public transit.

Governor Newsom made clear that counties remain free to impose more stringent restrictions, and that residents will need to comply with local orders. However, the Governor also made it clear that more counties will soon follow Butte and El Dorado Counties in being permitted to relax restrictions in their jurisdiction, stating that the Governor’s office has been in communications with numerous other counties regarding readiness criteria.

In order to provide our clients advice concerning the Return to Work, LCW is hosting a webinar dedicated to this subject on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. LCW will be providing program participants a suite of policies to assist these agencies reopen their facilities and worksites and return employees to work in a healthy and safe manner. We hope you will join us.