California Governor Acts to Permit In-Store Retail Shopping - California COVID-19 Guidance: Week in Review

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Updated May 27, 2020

On Memorial Day Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health announced that retail stores statewide can open for in-store shopping provided they comply with certain required safety protocols. CDPH also provided guidelines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for workers and customers for retailers statewide. These rules mirror previously issued guidance that had applied only to retail stores in counties that had been granted a variance to move to “Expanded Stage 2” of the Governor’s Resilience Roadmap.

The Newsom Administration also announced that 47 of the state’s 58 counties have received variances. Absent from this list are some of the state’s most populous urban counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, although Los Angeles County is in discussions with the Governor regarding a potential piecemeal approach and San Francisco County is reportedly collaborating with other Bay Area counties in developing its application for a variance. A full list of each of the 58 counties’ status, including all 47 approved county variance applications, is available here.

Note that under the guidance now applicable to all California retailers, businesses must have a comprehensive worksite-specific COVID-19 safety plan and must post this plan at their entrance before opening their doors to the public. Applicable rules include physical distancing, facial coverings, frequent handwashing and cleaning protocols, and training for employees on infection detection and containment.

Governor Newsom’s action does not specifically override county decisions to limit in store retail shopping. CDPH’s announcement notes that reopening in-store retail is “subject to approval by county public health departments.”

As of May 27, businesses in San Francisco County remain open for curbside pickup only. LA County moved to bring its health order in line with Governor Newsom’s decision permitting in-store retail to reopen. The revised Health Order permits in-store retail within the County to reopen at 50% capacity under specified conditions. Phase 3 businesses—personal services such as barbers, hair salons and aestheticians, as well as “high-risk” businesses such as in-restaurant dining and movie theaters—remain closed under the updated Order. Businesses must comply with their County’s guidance on safety precautions: Los Angeles and San Francisco.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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