On November 16, 2020, California implemented an accelerated application of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy metrics. Under the Blueprint Framework, every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. Each tier has its own set of restrictions. Three days later, on November 19, 2020, the state issued a limited Stay at Home Order.

Due to the continued rise of new cases and hospital admissions, on December 3, 2020, the state issued a revised Stay at Home Order. Unlike previous statewide stay at home orders, this new Order evaluates the adult ICU bed capacity for each region and bases the Order’s application on the evaluated capacity. The five regions are broken up by county and can be found here. Once a region’s ICU bed capacity reaches less than 15%, the following restrictions apply:

  • All individuals shall stay home except to attend work as part of the Essential Workforce (and as otherwise specifically permitted in the Order). The state has issued guidance for essential businesses here.
  • All retailers may operate indoors at no more than 20% capacity.
  • Outdoor recreation may continue to operate, but those facilities may no longer sell food or drink for on-site consumption.
  • Gatherings with members of other households are prohibited.
  • Worship and political expression are permitted outdoors.
  • Schools may remain open.
  • Hotels and lodging shall not accept out-of-state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the length of the reservation is at least the minimum time period required for quarantine (i.e., two weeks).

The Order went into effect on December 5, 2020, and will remain in effect for at least three weeks from the date the ICU bed capacity in a region falls below 15%. The Order shall continue until the Department of Public Health’s four-week projection for ICU bed capacity is greater than or equal to 15%. The Department of Public Health will make ICU bed capacity projections twice a week. The state will identify which regions are below 15% capacity on www.covid19.ca.gov. If a region falls below 15% capacity after December 5 (the effective date of the Order), the restrictions shall take effect 24 hours after the assessment.

Once a region is no longer subject to the revised order, each county within the region will be assigned a tier based on the Blueprint discussed above and will be subject to the restrictions set forth for that tier.

Sheppard Mullin continues to monitor the orders put in place by public health officials and will issue updates as they occur.

As you are aware, things are changing quickly and there is a lack of clear-cut authority or bright line rules on implementation. This article is not intended to be an unequivocal, one-size fits all guidance, but instead represents our interpretation of where things currently and generally stand. This article does not address the potential impacts of the numerous other local, state and federal orders that have been issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including, without limitation, potential liability should an employee become ill, requirements regarding family leave, sick pay and other issues.

Sheppard Mullin is committed to providing employers with updated information regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the workplace. Stay informed on legal implications with Sheppard Mullin’s Coronavirus Insights Portal which aggregates the firm’s various COVID-19 blog posts on a broad range of topics.