San Francisco Bay Area Counties Issue Stricter Limits on Commercial Activities in Updated COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place Orders

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Farella Braun + Martel LLPTo combat the growing number of coronavirus cases in the Bay Area, six local counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara) have issued updated Shelter-In-Place orders that extend the ongoing restrictions to May 3rd. Superseding the previously issued orders for those counties, the new orders contain stricter limits on recreational and commercial activities.

For certain businesses, the new orders will have a significant impact. For instance, the orders clarify that construction is now permitted only with regard to the following types of projects:

  • healthcare facility construction directly related to the COVID19 response
  • affordable housing (developments containing at least 10% income-restricted units)
  • public works projects when designated as essential by the lead governmental agency
  • shelters and temporary housing
  • projects necessary to provide critical services to certain vulnerable individuals
  • construction necessary to secure an existing construction site
  • limited essential residential or business repairs

The new county orders also provide clarification on the permitted activities of certain additional businesses, including those involved in auto supply and repair, residential transactions (including rentals, leases, and home sales), moving services, childcare, landscaping or gardening, and supplying products needed for people to work from home. Workers or owners of these types of businesses are advised to review the applicable county orders for more detail.

Furthermore, under the new orders, “Essential Businesses”—certain enumerated businesses which are allowed to remain in operation—are subject to additional requirements. Essential Businesses are required to follow industry-specific guidance issued by County Health Officers related to COVID-19 and must complete, post, and implement a “Social Distancing Protocol” for each facility that remains open. The new orders also direct Essential Businesses to maximize the number of employees who work from home. Furthermore, businesses that include an Essential Business component alongside non-essential components are directed to scale down their operations to only the Essential Business component, to the extent feasible.

The updated orders also discuss the statewide order issued by Governor Newsom following the original county orders, explaining that the statewide order sets “baseline statewide restrictions” that the county orders have exceeded in some respects. (For a more detailed discussion of the distinctions between the prior county and statewide orders, you can read our previous post here.)

Given the possibility that subsequent orders will further extend and alter the ongoing Shelter-In-Place orders, all businesses and individuals should continue paying close attention to announcements from state and local officials. 

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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