Orange County Issues Amended Order to Slow Spread of COVID-19 – March 18, 2020
The County Health Officer for Orange County issued an Amended Order and Guidance of the Orange County Health Officer on March 18, 2020, concerning protocol for Orange County residents and businesses in light of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). As indicated in our first Alert, the order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until March 31.
In response to apparent widespread confusion over what the initial order meant for Orange County residents and businesses, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued a press release at 6:51 p.m. on March 17 to clarify that residents may continue to report to work, and almost all businesses are encouraged to keep operating while practicing social distancing guidelines.
In keeping with that statement, the County issued the Amended Order today at 4:40 p.m. While the substantive provisions of the original order and guidance described in our first Alert remain largely unchanged in the Amended Order, the County hosted a news conference this afternoon in advance of issuing the Amended Order to assure Orange County residents and business owners again that Orange County is not on lockdown and that the County’s orders are not shelter-in-place orders like those seen in certain Northern California counties.
The Amended Order replaces the March 17 order and notes that, with certain specific exceptions, the order was not intended to prohibit businesses or other entities from operating within Orange County. Rather, businesses are encouraged to remain in operation, but to do so accordance with social distancing guidelines.
The order specifically notes:
- Public or private Gatherings as defined by the California Department of Public Health are prohibited.
- The order does NOT prohibit activities such as attendance at regular school classes, going to work, or performing essential services.
- The only businesses ordered to close are “(1) all bars and other business establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food shall close; and (2) all movie theaters, gyms, and health clubs.”
- Employers cannot “require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work”
- “A strong recommendation is made that” all persons who are in at-risk categories stay home and persons exhibiting symptoms isolate themselves.
- “A strong recommendation is made that all businesses enact social distancing, increased sanitation standards, and make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce.”
- “A strong recommendation is made that all residents are to heed any orders and guidance of state and local health officials related to COVID-19.”
We are actively monitoring the COVID-19 developments and the new orders being issued by cities and counties across the state every day. Contact the attorneys at AALRR if you have any questions about how COVID-19 affects your business.