Fresno, Napa, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, and Ventura Counties Receive Variances to Push Further into Stage 2 Reopening, Allow Dining-in at Restaurants, In-Store Retail, and Other Businesses
Fresno, Napa, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, and Ventura Counties Receive Variances to Push Further into Stage 2 Reopening, Allow Dining-in at Restaurants, In-Store Retail, and Other Businesses

The counties of Fresno, Napa, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, and Ventura are the latest to join the growing group of counties which have sought and received variances from the California Department of Public Health to proceed into California’s Advanced Stage 2 reopening.  The variances generally authorize restaurants to re-open for dining-in and retailers to re-open for in-store shopping across the eight counties.  A few of the counties’ Orders also permit additional types of businesses to reopen.

What does this mean for employers?

Fresno

Effective May 21, 2020, Fresno County was granted a variance to move into “Advanced Stage Two.”  Under this variance, Fresno County restaurants are permitted to open to dine-in services, subject to modifications.  At this time, the variance only applies to dine-in restaurants.

In addition, the Fresno County Department of Public Health has issued an updated Public Health Order and Interim Guidance for Reopening to help employers prepare their businesses for reopening. 

Napa

Effective May 21, 2020, Napa County was granted a variance to move into “Expanded Stage Two” of reopening, which allows the following businesses and services to open with adaptations:

  • Retail stores, including shopping malls and swap meets
  • Dine-in restaurants

Excluded from the Napa County reopening are wineries and tasting rooms, which are slated to reopen when California, statewide, moves into Stage 3 of the phased reopening process. 

Upon reopening, Napa county businesses are required to, at a minimum, meet the State of California standards, and may follow best management practices that exceed State standards.  In addition to meeting State standards, upon reopening, businesses are required to:

  • Post the State’s industry-specific checklist in the workplace to show customers and employees that the establishment has reduced the risk and is open for business
  • Prepare and post signage of their social distancing protocol at entrance of each location

Sacramento

The Health Officer Order dated May 22, 2020 issued by Sacramento Department of Health allows the following additional businesses to reopen, effective 11:59 am on May 22, 2020:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • In-store retail and shopping malls
  • Pet grooming
  • Car washes
  • Offices/workplaces previously not authorized to open – when telework is not possible.
  • Outdoor museums
  • Art galleries
  • Religious services - drive-through only
  • Graduation ceremonies - drive-through only

These businesses may reopen only after implementing all of the social distancing measures set forth in Appendix A of the Health Officer Order and complying with the sector-specific guidance provided by the state.  

San Luis Obispo

Effective May 20, 2020, San Luis Obispo County was granted a variance to move into “Advanced Stage Two.”  Under this variance, the following businesses are able to reopen subject to modifications:

  • Destination Retail
  • Dine-in Restaurants (not bars or gaming areas)

The San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health has issued detailed guidance materials (including a business toolkit) on its Reopening and Self Certification Process webpage to help businesses navigate the reopening process.

Santa Barbara

Health Officer Order 2020-8.2a issued by the Santa Barbara County Department of Health allows the following additional businesses to reopen, beginning 9:00 am, May 21, 2020:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • In-store retailers
  • Campgrounds and RV parks
  • Drive-in theaters
  • Pawn shops
  • Recyclers
  • Swap meet and flea markets

An employer must complete the following steps before reopening:

  • Complete and post the Social Distancing Protocol, which is Attachment E of the Order
  • Review the guidance published by the State of California and the County of Santa Barbara
  • Upon reviewing the guidance, perform a detailed risk assessment in accordance with the state guidelines for your industry and prepare a COVID-19 protection plan based on the guidance
  • Implement a site-specific COVID-19 protection plan. This must be kept on site and readily available.  For your reference, templates for industry specific prevention plans are available
  • Complete your industry-specific checklist
  • Complete the attestation form
  • Post the industry-specific checklist and the attestation at your business to show your customers and employees you have reduced the risk and are open for business

Links to the above-referenced guidance, templates, checklists, and attestation are available from the Santa Barbara Department of Public Health website.  

Solano

Effective May 22, 2020, Solano County was granted a variance to move into “Expanded Stage Two” of reopening, which allows the following businesses and services to open with social distancing measures in place:

  • Destination retail stores, including bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing stores, home furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, florists, shopping malls, swap-meets
  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Office-based business operations

These businesses may reopen only if they have met the State’s guidance for reopening and post readiness checklists at their establishments to self-certify that they are ready to reopen safely.  All of these materials, including signage, are available for review and preparation on the Solano County Public Health Roadmap to Recovery website

Sonoma

Effective May 23, 2020, Sonoma County was granted a variance to move into “Expanded Stage Two” of reopening and the County amended its Public Shelter-in-Place Health Order to expand the list of businesses able to operate in the Sonoma County to include:

  • Restaurants and food facilities, which may offer onsite sit-down outdoor meals
  • Wineries, tasting rooms, bars, pubs, breweries and craft distilleries, which may offer:
    • Curbside pick-up, delivery, shipping; and
    • Sit-down outdoor meals in accordance with their land use permit, if the business has a food-facility permit (if applicable)
  • Summer day camps and other educational or recreational institutions or programs may provide childcare/supervision for children of all ages
  • Ceremonies (including graduations and religious activities) may be conducted with household members attending in closed motorized vehicles

In order to reopen, businesses must comply with local and State orders and guidance, including preparing, posting and implementing social distancing, face covering and worker/consumer safety protocols at all operational sites. Details pertaining to these protocols are in Appendix A of the May 1, 2020 Health Order C19-09.

In addition, since businesses are required to have employees conduct a health assessment and temperature check before reporting to work, the County has developed an electronic application for businesses, called the SoCo COVID-19 Check. Currently, only the employee version is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Ventura

Effective May 20, 2020, under the amended “Stay Well VC Order,” an employer that operates a dine-in restaurant and/or an in-store retail business may reopen.  The affected restaurants and retail businesses are required to register at https://www.vcemergency.com/vc-reopens and follow the County guidance and requirements, as well as comply with all required State directives to reopen. Unlike other the counties discussed above, in the current Order, Ventura County has not expanded the list of businesses that may reopen beyond dine-in restaurants or in-store retail businesses. 

At AALRR, we anticipate other counties will continue to seek variances, have variances approved, and move further forward into Stage Two re-openings.  We will continue to monitor the reopening of California’s counties as employers ready themselves for employees returning to work and broader openings to the public.

If you have any questions or concerns about whether and how you may reopen or return employees to work, or about how to ensure compliance with local and State restrictions and guidelines to open safely, please contact the authors of this blog or your regular counsel at AALRR.

If you are looking for tools to help assist your business with the reopening process, the AALRR COVID-19 Return to Work ToolKit™ is available for purchase here.

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