On July 1, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced closures of indoor dining and entertainment venues, as well as all bars, in 19 counties. California immediately issued Guidance describing these closures. Gov. Newsom also announced coordinated enforcement efforts, including the creation of Enforcement Strike Teams between state agencies and local counties and cities. Businesses are advised to regularly review the rules that remain in constant flux.
Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Ventura Counties are affected. These counties must close indoor operations for the following business sectors:
- Dine-in restaurants
- Wineries and tasting rooms
- Movie theaters
- Family entertainment centers (e.g., bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, and arcades)
- Zoos and museums
These sectors may still operate outdoors or by pickup, if applicable. In addition, bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs must close all operations even if they are operating outdoors.
The state selected these 19 counties because they have been on the state’s Monitoring List for three consecutive days due to their increasing infection rates. The Guidance applies for a minimum of three weeks and is subject to extension. Critically, these closures do not apply to counties that are not on the Monitoring List. If other counties move to the Monitoring List, however, they may be subject to the same closure mandate.
The state selected these business sectors due to their particularly high risk of spreading COVID-19. The Guidance states “[t]he data is clear that community spread of infection is of increasing concern across the state, and in particular for those counties on the County Monitoring List. The sectors at issue in this document are all high risk of transmission due to a number of features of the businesses and the behaviors that occur within them. These sectors, foundationally, are settings where groups convene and may mix with others for prolonged periods of time without appropriate protective equipment, such as a face covering.”
The Governor also announced that the Office of Emergency Services will lead enforcement efforts of public health orders with local counties and cities. To secure compliance, the state is implementing “Enforcement Strike Teams” which initially will educate the public but then conduct targeted enforcement to the extent public education is not effective. These teams will include several state agencies (e.g., Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, CalOSHA, Department of Business Oversight, Department of Consumer Affairs, and California Highway Patrol).
The Governor continues to encourage local counties to lead enforcement efforts. He noted that if the counties do not enforce the renewed restrictions, then the state will take action.
With increased COVID-19 rates the past several weeks, the pendulum has swung back toward restrictive measures. Given the current trend, it is possible that the state and/or local jurisdictions could impose even more restrictive measures for these sectors or restrict reopening in other sectors in the coming weeks, including in counties not on the Monitoring List. Or, if rates decline, the state and local jurisdictions may resume phases of reopening. Either way, the rules remain in constant flux. Businesses should review regularly the orders and guidance in their locations. Morgan Lewis will continue to keep businesses apprised of significant changes.