Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura Counties Become First Southern California Jurisdictions to Require Written Social Distancing Protocol

04.10.2020, updated 04.13.2020

UPDATE, 04.13.2020:

The City of Long Beach issued an updated public health order on April 10, and the City of Pasadena issued an updated public health order on April 11, both of which contain provisions similar to the rest of LA County with respect to use of face coverings and distribution/posting of a social distancing protocol.  (See Long Beach order here; see Pasadena order here).


04.10.2020

Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura Counties have become the latest jurisdictions—and the first in Southern California—to require Essential Businesses, including schools and educational institutions, to prepare and implement written Social Distancing Protocols.

The Orders from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura Counties closely follow and track the requirements already imposed by many major jurisdictions across Northern California.  For a more detailed overview of these previous Orders:

Additionally, San Diego has joined other Southern California jurisdictions—including the City of Los Angeles and Riverside County—in requiring that employees of certain Essential Businesses must now wear face coverings.  The San Diego Order currently applies to employees of “any restaurant or other essential business that serves food, grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store or gas station.”  Beginning at 12:00 a.m. on April 14, 2020, the San Diego face-covering requirement will also be in effect for “all employees who may have contact with the public in banks, or public transportation.”

The Los Angeles County Order broadens face-covering requirements for Essential Business employees by requiring that all Essential Business employees “whose duties require contact with other employees and/or the public” wear a face covering while “performing duties that involve contact with others.” 

The Los Angeles County Order also extends the restrictions in its Safer-at-Home Order to May 15, 2020, “or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer.”  This includes the Order’s restrictions on gatherings of any number of people for non-exempted purposes and the continued closure of various recreational sites and non-essential business.  For more information on these continuing restrictions, see our prior legal alerts about the original Los Angeles County Order here and here.  Notably, the Los Angeles County Order does not apply to the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach.  

Social Distancing Protocol Requirements

Under the new Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura County Orders, all Essential Businesses, including schools and educational institutions, must prepare and post a “Social Distancing Protocol” for each of their facilities in the County frequented by the public or employees.

Each Essential Business must post their Social Distancing Protocol at or near the entrance of each of their facilities where they can be easily viewable by the public and employees.  The Essential Businesses must also provide a copy of the Social Distancing Protocol to each employee who performs any work at the facility.  An Essential Business must provide evidence of its implementation of the Social Distancing Protocol to authorities upon demand.

The Orders include form Social Distancing Protocols, and require that each Social Distancing Protocol be in substantially that same form.  To access the Los Angeles County form Social Distancing Protocol, click here (see Appendix A at the end of the Order).  For San Diego County, click here.  For Ventura County, click here.

The Los Angeles Order was updated on April 10, 2020, and is effective immediately.  However, Essential Businesses in Los Angeles County have until 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2020, to post and implement a written Social Distancing Protocol.  The San Diego County Order was updated on April 8, 2020, and is effective April 10, 2020.  The Ventura County Order was updated on April 9, 2020, and was effective at 11:59 p.m. on April 9, 2020.  Essential Businesses in Ventura County have until April 12, 2020, to post and implement a written Social Distancing Protocol.

Each Social Distancing Protocol must explain how the business is achieving the following, as applicable:

(i)    Limiting the number of people who can enter into the facility at any one time to ensure that people in the facility can easily maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another at all times, except as required to complete the Essential Business activity;

(ii)   Where lines may form at a facility, marking six-foot increments at a minimum, establishing where individuals should stand to maintain adequate social distancing;

(iii)  Providing hand sanitizer, soap and water, or effective disinfectant at or near the entrance of the facility and in other appropriate areas for use by the public and employees, and in locations where there is high-frequency employee interaction with members of the public (e.g. cashiers);

(iv)  Providing for contactless payment systems or, if not feasible to do so, the providing for disinfecting all payment portals, pens, and styluses after each use;

(v.)  Regularly cleaning and disinfecting other high-touch surfaces;

(vi)  Posting a sign at the entrance of the facility informing all employees and customers that they should: avoid entering the facility if they have a cough or fever; maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another; sneeze and cough into one’s elbow; not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact; and

(vii) Any additional social distancing measures being implemented (see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html).

Looking to the future, we will update this legal alert to include other Southern California Counties as they join in with the Social Distancing Protocol requirements.  However, because of the ever-changing circumstances and amended orders, contact the attorneys at AALRR for the most up-to-date information.

Conclusion and Next Steps

All Essential Businesses, including schools and educational institutions, should take care that they do not run afoul of any employment or other laws in their implementation of their Social Distancing Protocol.  All other laws remain in effect while the Orders are in effect. 

If you have questions or concerns about meeting the requirements of the new Orders, including the Social Distancing Protocol, please contact the attorneys at AALRR to prepare or review your Social Distancing Protocol and your legal options in your particular circumstances.

This AALRR publication is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR presentation/publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.

©2020 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

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