LA County Issues New Return-to-Work Orders

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A Simple 25-Page Order (Plus 32 Different Appendices) Guiding the Reopening of Businesses

This Alert is for the employers with office worksites in Los Angeles County. Effective May 6, 2021, the Los Angeles County Department of Public has issued its “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” entitled the “Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community for Control of COVID-19” order. And if you think the name is long, wait until you see the order!

All office-based work sites must post and comply with Appendix D, which is comprised of another 9 pages of requirements for addressing safety of employees as well as the public while ensuring and balancing proper physical distancing and equitable access to services. (You can also find Appendices A through CC on the LA County Department of Health Re-opening page. Most of the Appendices cover a different industry or work location, including retail, restaurants, outdoor live events (sporting events, concerts, etc.), indoor live events, music/film/television production, hotels and lodging, gyms, museums, movie theaters, personal care businesses and more.)

Below are some key takeaways for employers operating office work sites:

  • Vaccination Status: This is one of the new topics addressed by the orders. While we still caution issuance of mandatory vaccination policies for employees until the COVID-19 vaccines are FDA “approved” (which is a higher standard than the current Emergency Use Authorization -- see our earlier Client Alert), employers can encourage employees to be vaccinated. The new orders confirm that employers can request proof of vaccination for employees who are working in the office. Under the orders, fully vaccinated workplaces can have a greater occupancy and can loosen distancing requirements as compared to those workplaces where not everyone is vaccinated.
  • Continuing Safety Protocols: Although “reopening” sounds like a big change for many employers, and many employees are now vaccinated, many safety measures remain the same. These guidelines apply whether all employees are vaccinated or not:
    • Remote Work: Despite the move to re-open, employers are still encouraged to direct everyone who can carry out their work duties from home to do so. In-person meetings are still strongly discouraged in favor of virtual meetings and non-essential business travel out of state is still not recommended.
    • Screening: Daily screening of employees is required, but can be accomplished through posting of signs and/or use of check-in apps on phones. While temperature taking is encouraged when feasible, it does not appear to be mandatory.
    • Workplace Exposure: Isolation and notification processes remain in effect in the event of workplace exposure to COVID-19.
    • Masks: Masks are still required unless the person is working in a private office with a closed door. Employees should be instructed to wash their cloth masks after each use or replace their disposable face masks daily.
    • Sanitation: Regular sanitation and cleaning requirements, including allowing breaks for frequent hand-washing and providing disinfectant and sanitizers, remain in effect.

While this information is current as of the issuance of this Alert, things can change rapidly if Los Angeles experiences another wave or leaves the yellow tier. For the most current orders and information, you can visit the LA County Department of Health Reopening page.

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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