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California: State-by-State COVID-19 Guidance

CALIFORNIA

February 23, 2021:

On February 23, 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law a package of immediate relief actions in an effort to help small businesses facing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The package provides for:

  • Increased for grants up to $25,000 for small businesses;
  • An allocation of $50 million for non-profit cultural institutions; and
  • Two years of fee relief for heavily-impacted business licenses.

The package also provides relief for individuals and families. Under this legislation, qualifying individuals will be eligible to receive one-time payments of $600. In addition to individual aid, the legislation allocates over $400 million in new federal funds to provide childcare stipends for each child enrolled in state-subsidized childcare and preschool.

February 17, 2021:

On February 17, 2021, Governor Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced an agreement for an immediate action plan that will provide relief to individuals, families, and businesses economically impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The action plan will:

  • increase funding for small business grants of up to $25,000;
  • waive licensing fees for impacted businesses; and
  • allocate an additional $50 million to support cultural institutions.

Additionally, the plan partially conforms California tax law to reflect the new federal tax treatment for loans provided through the Paycheck Protection Plan (“PPP”). Under this modification, companies will be able to deduct up to $150,000 in expenses covered by the PPP loan. Under the plan, businesses that took out loans of $150,000 or less will be able to maximize their deduction for state purposes. In addition to aid for small businesses, the action plan will provide one-time relief payments of $600 to qualifying individuals, increase resources for critical childcare, and grant emergency relief to support community college students.

February 4, 2021:

On February 3, 2021, Governor Newsom announced a pilot partnership with the Biden Administration that will establish community vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles. The pilot sites will be based at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles. These two locations were selected to prioritize communities that have been most affected by COVID-19, and preparations to outfit these two locations have already begun. The sites are expected to be open to administer vaccines to eligible individuals on February 16, 2021.

February 1, 2021:

On January 29, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 91 to extend the eviction moratorium. The eviction moratorium originally established under AB 3088 was set to expire at the end of January. Under Senate Bill 91, however, the moratorium will remain in effect until June 30, 2021. Under the moratorium, tenants who declare under penalty of perjury an inability to pay all or part of their rent for COVID-related reason cannot be evicted. The legislation stipulates that tenants will still be required to pay property owners, but the accrual of unpaid rent cannot be the basis for eviction, even after the moratorium ends. Senate Bill 91 also establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, which will allocate the $2.6 billion in federal rental assistance funds that California is slated to receive. The funds are to be directed toward income-qualified tenants most at risk for unpaid back rent. The program will also allow property owners who agree to waive 20 percent of back rent amounts owed between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021 to become eligible for 80 percent in rent reimbursements for that same period.

January 27, 2021:

Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-02-21 on January 27, 2021. The Order extends existing liability protections to health care professionals and providers who participate in the State’s COVID-19 vaccine administration program. The Order also clarifies that the extended liability protections also apply to persons working under the supervision or instruction of health care professionals and providers such as pharmacy technicians. Finally, the Order instructs disciplinary bodies under the direction of the Department of Consumer Affairs to prioritize investigations and disciplinary proceedings against licensees alleged to have diverted vaccine supplies for financial gain.

January 25, 2021:

On January 25, the CDPH announced that they are lifting the Regional Stay at Home Order enacted on December 3, 2020. This action comes after the projected ICU availability rose above 15% in all regions. Upon the expiration of the Regional Stay at Home Order, counties will return to their assigned tiers under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Additionally, Governor Newsom announced several improvements to the state’s vaccination plan. The improvements are aimed at making it easier for people to know when that are eligible for vaccination, accelerating the administration of vaccinations, and improving vaccination data.

The state will continue to issue vaccines to individuals 65+ and health care workers and will prioritize emergency services workers, food and agriculture workers, teachers, and school staff. Once the state can expand distribution of the vaccine, the state will transition to an age-based eligibility system with a specific focus on communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID -19.

On January 21, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-01-21 effective January 21, 2021. The order extends the validity of medical cannabis identification cards that would have otherwise expired on or after March 4, 2020, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

January 12, the CDPH expanded vaccine eligibility to include Seniors 65+. However, those individuals slated to receive the vaccine in Phase 1A—namely, health care workers and long-term care residents—remain the highest priority at this time. While demand for the vaccine continues to exceed supply, Governor Newsom has announced a new notification system set to roll out next week. The new system will notify people eligible to receive the vaccine, and if not yet eligible, will allow for them to register for a notification via email or text when they become eligible.

January 11, 2021:

Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health took action to continue the State’s efforts to halt the rise in COVID-19 infections and provide additional relief to California businesses.

On January 5, CDPH modified and extended the Limited Stay at Home Order issued last November so that its expiration will coincide with Regional Stay at Home Order’s termination. The modified order continues to require that all gatherings with members of other households and all activities conducted outside the residence, lodging, or temporary accommodation with members of other households cease between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. PST. In addition, non-essential retail must now specifically cease in-person operations between the same time period.

Executive Order N-84-20 extends the availability of housing for migrant agricultural workers and provides a 90-day extension on tax returns and tax payments for small businesses. The order allows migrant farm labor centers managed by the Department of Housing and Community Development to continue housing agricultural workers and their families beyond the statutory occupancy period. It also suspends the requirement that these workers reside outside of a 50-mile radius from the migrant farm labor center for three months of the preceding six months. Further, the order authorizes the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to offer a 90-day extension for tax returns and tax payments for all businesses filing a return for less than $1 million in taxes. Small businesses will have until the end of July 2021 to file their first-quarter returns.

December 7, 2020:

California has adopted a Regional Stay at Home Order, amended as December 6, 2020 (“Regional Order”), which imposes the most severe restrictions on social and economic activity since the pandemic began last March. This move comes on the heels of the State’s restrictive curfew order that prohibited all non-essential activities between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for those counties in the most-restrictive tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. That order appears to have been insufficient, prompting the issuance of the Regional Order, which remains in effect until repealed.

True to its name, the Regional Order divides California into five regions: Northern California, Greater Sacramento, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California. So far, only Southern California and San Joaquin Valley are subject to the Regional Order’s restrictions, which take effect when a region’s ICU bed availability falls below 15%.

Under the Order, the following limitations apply:

  • all gatherings with members of other households are prohibited in the region, unless expressly permitted by the Order;
  • all individuals living in the region shall stay home or at their place of residence except as necessary to conduct activities associated with the operation, maintenance, or usage of Critical Infrastructure;
  • worship and political expression are permitted outdoors;
  • all retailers may operate indoors at no more than 20% capacity and must follow the guidance for retailers—the sale of food, beverages, and alcohol for instore consumption is prohibited;
  • grocery stores where the principal business activity is the sale of food may operate at 35% of capacity; and
  • no hotel or lodging entity in an affected region in California shall accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.

Critical Infrastructure sectors, schools, childcare and pre-K, outdoor recreation activities, and non-urgent medical and dental care remain operational subject to existing state guidance. As a result, the following economic sectors must close unless their operations qualify as Critical Infrastructure:

  • indoor and outdoor playgrounds;
  • hair salons and barbershops;
  • personal care services;
  • museums, zoos, and aquariums;
  • movie theaters (except drive-in);
  • wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries;
  • family entertainment centers;
  • cardrooms and satellite wagering;
  • limited services;
  • live audience sports; and
  • Amusement parks.

The Regional Order takes effect the next day at 11:59 p.m. after a region becomes subject to it. Once a region is no longer subject to the Regional Order, the counties in that regions must continue to adhere to applicable restrictions of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Currently, every county except six, which includes Marin County, are in Level Purple of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy—the most restrictive level.

November 16, 2020:

California effectively shelved its Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”) on Monday in response to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Consequently, on November 17, 2020, 94.1% of California’s population will be subject to the most restrictive limitations on social and economic activity under the Blueprint. Only a handful of counties, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin counties, will be allowed to operate under the restrictions imposed by the Blueprint’s second most restrictive tier: Substantial Tier 2. These two tiers will halt the State’s reopening for the foreseeable future as state health officials try to flatten the virus’ curve.

Further, the California Department of Health revised its face-covering guidance to require all residents over the age of two to wear a face covering outside one’s home. The revised guidance maintains certain exceptions in place under the prior guidance for persons driving alone or with members of their household in a car, persons who are working in a room or office alone, and persons who are outdoors and maintaining at least six feet of social distancing from others not in their household.

Below is a summary of the restrictions imposed by Widespread Tier 1 and Widespread Tier 2 under the Blueprint:

November 5, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-83-20 to further support restaurants and other businesses located along state highways. The order authorizes the California Department of Transportation to issue temporary permits to those businesses adjacent to state highway right-of-way to occupy the right-of-way for commercial activities. Restaurants, for example, can obtain permits to expand their dining operations onto sidewalks or parking lots located within a state highway right-of-way.

The order also modifies the following licensing requirements or deadlines: (1) the deadline for paying real estate licensing or renewal fees is extended to June 30, 2021, and (2) the deadline for fulfilling continuing education requirements for real estate licenses is extended to June 30, 2021.

October 7, 2020:

California has introduced an additional health metric into its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, effective October 6, 2020. The new metric, referenced as the “Health Equity Metric,” aims to ensure that counties reduce COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates in low income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and essential worker communities.

Under the new metric, counties with a population of over 106,000 must meet two additional requirements in order to progress to a less restrictive re-opening tier. First, a county must satisfy the Health Equity Metric. Next, it must submit a plan for making targeted investments in reducing infection and other rates in low income and communities of color. Counties with a population of less than 106,000, however, need only satisfy the targeted-investments prong for reopening, in addition to the Blueprint’s other requirements.

In order to satisfy the Health Equity Metric and move to a less restrictive tier, the county’s lowest quartile under the State’s Health Places Index must meet the following test-positivity thresholds:

  • For counties entering the red tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts' test positivity must also be ≤ 8%;
  • For counties entering the orange tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts' test positivity must be within 5% of the orange tier threshold, or ≤ 5.2%; and
  • For counties entering the yellow tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts must be within 10% of the yellow tier threshold, or ≤ 2.1%.

The targeted-investments prong mandates that a county submit a plan that: (1) defines its disproportionately impacted populations; (2) specifies the percent of its COVID-19 cases in these populations; and (3) shows that it plans to invest Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases grant funds at least at that percentage to interrupt disease transmission in these populations.

The Healthy Places Index is a composite measure of socioeconomic opportunity applied to census tracts that includes 25 individual indicators across economic, social, education, transportation, housing, environmental and neighborhood sectors.

October 6, 2020:

California has introduced an additional health metric into its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, effective October 6, 2020. The new metric, referenced as the “Health Equity Metric,” aims to ensure that counties reduce COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates in low income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and essential worker communities.

Under the new metric, counties with a population of over 106,000 must meet two additional requirements in order to progress to a less restrictive re-opening tier. First, a county must satisfy the Health Equity Metric. Next, it must submit a plan for making targeted investments in reducing infection and other rates in low income and communities of color. Counties with a population of less than 106,000, however, need only satisfy the targeted-investments prong for reopening, in addition the Blueprint’s other requirements.

In order to satisfy the Health Equity Metric and move to a less restrictive tier, the county’s lowest quartile under the State’s Health Places Index must meet the following test-positivity thresholds:

  • For counties entering the red tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts' test positivity must also be ≤ 8%;
  • For counties entering the orange tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts' test positivity must be within 5% of the orange tier threshold, or ≤ 5.2%; and
  • For counties entering the yellow tier, their lowest quartile HPI census tracts must be within 10% of the yellow tier threshold, or ≤ 2.1%.

The targeted-investments prong mandates that a county submit a plan that: (1) defines its disproportionately impacted populations; (2) specifies the percent of its COVID-19 cases in these populations; and (3) shows that it plans to invest Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases grant funds at least at that percentage to interrupt disease transmission in these populations.

The Healthy Places Index is a composite measure of socioeconomic opportunity applied to census tracts that includes 25 individual indicators across economic, social, education, transportation, housing, environmental and neighborhood sectors.

September 28, 2020:

Governor Newsom extended a variety of COVID-related protections for California businesses through Executive Order N-80-20.

The order continues to empower local governments to limit foreclosure actions against commercial tenants for the nonpayment of rent. Eligible commercial tenants are those experiencing a substantial decrease in business income because of the pandemic or a local, state, or federal response to the pandemic. The order remains in effect until March 31, 2021.

Governor Newsom also suspended various statutory requirements concerning in-person meetings for shareholders. Under the order, shareholder meetings may be conducted by electronic transmission or electronic video screen transmission until the order is modified or rescinded. Remote shareholder meetings must provide shareholders, as closely as reasonably possible, an opportunity to participate that is equivalent to the ability of in-person attendees at the corporation’s last in-person meeting to participate. Further, the corporation must avoid imposing unreasonable obligations on shareholders seeking to participate.

The order provides the Director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Director”) the authority to suspend, for a period of up to 30 days, the deadlines for renewing licenses upon payment of annual fees. The Director must consider funding availability when exercising his discretion. This discretionary authority expires on December 31, 2020.

Lastly, the order allows the Department of Managed Health Care (“Department”) to gather information to assess the impacts of the pandemic on health care providers and health care service plans. Under the order, the Department has the authority to establish procedures requiring health care service plans to furnish information related to the Department’s assessment without complying with the State’s Administrative Procedures Act.

September 17, 2020:

Under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, California is slowly transitioning its counties away from the “Widespread Tier 1” category and its stringent limitations on social and economic activity. Since August 28, eight more counties have transitioned from Widespread Tier 1 to lower categories, leaving 30 of the State’s 58 counties in that tier. See our prior updates for a summary of the restrictions in Widespread Tier 1.

California also announced that the metrics for determining a county’s tier status have changed effective September 15, 2020. Case rates are now adjusted based on California’s median (instead of the average) testing volume and will be fixed from the week ending September 5 for the next four weeks assignments through October 6.

September 8, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-78-70 before Labor Day in a continued effort to protect the State’s consumers against possible price gauging for certain essential goods. The order limits the ability of businesses or individuals to increase the prices for those goods from now until March 4, 2021.

The order creates two limitations on price increases. First, if business sold any of the below goods on February 4, 2020, the business cannot increase the costs of those goods by more than 10 percent above the price it sold those goods for on February 4, 2020. Next, if the business did not sell one or more of the goods on February 4, 2020, then the business cannot sell the good a price that is 50 percent greater than (a) the cost to procure the good or (b) the costs produce and sell the good.

The goods covered by the order are food items, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and any other materials designated as Scarce or Threatened Materials under Defense Production Act.

September 3, 2020:

On August 28, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) ditched its County Monitoring List in favor a new system for evaluating county-by-county re-openings on August 28, 2020. The so-called “Blueprint for a Safer Economy”, which takes effect on August 31, 2020, establishes four new re-opening categories that have varying impacts on the operation of the State’s economy.

The four categories are “Widespread Tier 1,” “Substantial Tier 2,” Moderate Tier 3,” and “Minimal Tier 4,” with Tier 1 being the most restrictive for businesses. The Blueprint defines each tier or category by establishing minimum thresholds for the number new cases per day and rate at which those cases are positive for coronavirus. For example, a county falls within Tier 1 if (a) the number of new cases per 100,000 people exceed seven, using a seven-day average, and (b) the average testing-positivity rate exceeds eight percent over the past seven days.

Counties may progress to a less-restrictive tier if it satisfies two requirements. First, the county must be in its present tier for at least three weeks. Next, the county must satisfy the new-case and test-positivity thresholds of the next tier for two consecutive weeks. And a county may move to a more restrictive tier if its coronavirus data satisfies the more restrictive tier’s thresholds for two consecutive weeks. CDPH will assess its county data on a weekly basis.

The restrictions on business activity vary by business sector within each Tier. In addition to complying with the express limitations for a particular sector, the business must also comply with CDPH’s existing guidance for the operation of that sector, including adopting social distancing and other familiar workplace restrictions. Below is sample of the operational restrictions imposed by each Tier:

Thirty-eight of the State’s 58 counties are presently in Tier 1 and another eight counties are in Tier 2. So, for most of the state, business will remain under relatively stringent operational limitations for the next several weeks.

September 1, 2020:

Governor Newsom and the State’s legislature acted at the end of August to expand the State’s eviction-relief efforts through the Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act.

Under the legislation, no tenant can be evicted before February 1, 2021 as a result of rent owed due to a COVID-19 related hardship accrued between March 4 to August 31, 2020, if the tenant provides a declaration of hardship according to the Act’s timelines. For a COVID-19 related hardship that accrues between September 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, tenants must also pay at least 25 percent of the rent due to avoid eviction.

The Act does not, however, relieve tenants of their obligation to pay all rent owed to the landlord. Tenants remain responsible for those amounts, and the Act permits landlords to begin collecting unpaid amounts on March 1, 2021.

The legislation also extends anti-foreclosure protections in the Homeowner Bill of Rights to small landlords; provides new accountability and transparency provisions to protect small landlord borrowers who request CARES-compliant forbearance; and provides the borrower who is harmed by a material violation with a cause of action.

August 25, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-75-20 on August 24, which suspends a variety of regulatory restrictions in order to bolster the State’s response to the pandemic. In particular, the order seeks to expand the State’s testing capacity by enabling pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to conduct any aspect of any point-of-care test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2.

The Governor also authorized increased flexibility in the operation of home health agencies and pediatric day and respite care facilities. Those entities may obtain a waiver of various licensing and staffing requirements from the Department of Public Health by implementing alternative measures that achieve similar outcomes while also protecting public health. Further, the order increases the income-eligibility threshold for the Community Service Block Grant program to support economic and community development efforts in response to the pandemic, and waives certain legal requirements to enable Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding made available under the CARES Act to be used to maximize direct assistance to Californians most in need.

Separately, the California Department of Public Health removed Amador County from the County Monitoring List on August 25. Amador County, however, remains subject to the additional restrictions on in-person operations for several types of business—including offices for non-critical infrastructure, gyms, and places of worship—until the State Health Officer authorizes the resumption of those in-person operations.

August 24, 2020:

The California Department of Public Health removed the following counties from the County Monitoring List over the weekend: Calaveras; Mono; Napa; and Orange. These counties remain subject to the additional restrictions on in-person operations for several types of business—including offices for non-critical infrastructure, gyms, and places of worship—until the State Health Officer authorizes the resumption of those in-person operations.

August 20, 2020:

The California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) clarified the waiver process for elementary schools seeking to resume in-person instruction. Under the re-opening framework issued by CDPH in July, schools could resume in-person instruction only if their local health jurisdiction (“LHJ”) was not on the County Monitoring List within the prior 14 days. The waiver process allows elementary schools to bypass that requirement.

Before applying for a waiver, school leaders or staff must consult with labor, parent, and community organizations and publish a re-opening plan on the website of the local educational agency. The plan must address topics such as: cleaning and disinfection; entrance, egress, and movement within the school; and physical distancing. Despite the waiver process, CDPH continues to recommend that “elementary schools within jurisdictions with 14-day case rates more than two times the threshold to be on the County Monitoring List (>200 cases/100,000 population) should not be considered for a waiver to re-open in-person instruction.”

August 19, 2020:

The California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) has clarified the application of the existing July 13, 2020 Statewide Public Health Officer Order (“Order”) to its County Monitoring List (“CML”). Since July 13, 2020, the following businesses have been required to cease all indoor operations statewide: restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters and entertainment venues, zoos, museums, and cardrooms. If a county, however, is placed on the CML for three consecutive days or more, then an additional group of businesses must cease indoor operations. The affected businesses include offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors, gyms and fitness centers, places of worship, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops, and shopping malls.

CDPH’s interpretation of the Order does not allow a county that has been removed from the CML to re-open those businesses that it was required to shut down because of its listing on the CML. Rather, a county removed from the CML must maintain the closure of those businesses until the State Health Officer modifies the Order and authorizes re-opening. Thus, the CDPH’s recent removal of Place, Santa Cruz, and San Diego counties from the CML does not allow offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors, gyms and fitness centers, and shopping malls to resume indoor operations. CDPH states that it is actively reassessing the Order’s terms and will provide updates in the coming week.

As of August 19, 2020, there are 40 counties on the CML. They are: Alameda; Amador; Butte; Calaveras; Colusa; Contra Costa; Fresno; Glenn; Imperial; Inyo; Kern; Kings; Los Angeles; Madera; Marin; Mendocino; Merced; Mono; Monterey; Napa; Orange; Riverside; Sacramento; San Benito; San Bernardino; San Francisco; San Joaquin; San Luis Obispo; San Mateo; Santa Barbara; Santa Clara; Sierra; Solano; Sonoma; Stanislaus; Sutter; Tulare; Ventura; Yolo; and Yuba.

August 18, 2020:

On August 17, the California Department of Public Health released the backlog of county-testing data and updated its county-monitoring map. The following counties are now included in the watchlist: Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mendocino, and Sierra counties. The agency, however, removed Santa Cruz County from the list. Counties now on the watchlist have a 48 hour period, ending on August 19 at 12:01 a.m., to comply with closing requirements, including closing indoor operations at dine-in restaurants, wineries, and shopping malls.

(San Francisco): San Francisco issued a new public health order on August 14. The new order revises previous orders in several ways, including: providing guidance for holding out-of-school programing for non-schools; prohibiting in-person instruction at higher education institutions unless otherwise excepted; and allowing for collegiate athletic programs to submit proposed plans to begin practices or games without spectators. The order continues to require the use of face covering while outside of one’s residence, adherence to social distancing requirements, and limitations on non-household gatherings, among other restrictions previously in place under the prior public health order.

(San Diego): The San Diego Health and Human Services Agency updated its public health order on August 7. The amended order requires employers to notify employees and contractors who may have been exposed to the virus when an employee has been diagnosed.

August 13, 2020:

The California Department of Public Health released guidance for institutions of higher education dealing with COVID-19 on August 7. The guidance is aimed at helping schools address concerns while in the process of planning and preparing to reopen. The guidance includes information on the use of face coverings, promoting hygiene, and addressing a student or staff member who becomes sick.

August 10, 2020:

Thirty-eight counties have been on the State’s COVID-19 watchlist for more than three days. These counties are subject to reclosing including the shut down of indoor services at gyms, places of worship, and shopping malls. The counties currently on the list for more than three days are: Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.  

August 6, 2020:

The California Department of Public Health released new guidance for schools and districts for the 2020-21 school year. The guidance addresses: communication protocols with public health officials to monitor infections in the area; creating and maintaining worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plans; the promotion of hygiene practices amongst faculty, staff, and students; and face-covering requirements.

August 3, 2020:

On July 31, Governor Newsom signed a new executive order extending the deadline for County Assessment Appeals Boards to render decisions on appeals filed on or before March 4, 2020 to January 31, 2021. Additionally, San Mateo County has now been on the State’s Watchlist for more than three days, which means that restaurants, movie theaters, and places of worship—among others facilities—must cease indoor service.

July 30, 2020:

San Mateo County was added to California’s County Watchlist. If a county remains on the list for three consecutive days, then restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, and other public spaces will be forced to cease indoor service. Mono County has now been on the list for more than three days and is subject to these restrictions.

July 27, 2020:

Since July 7, fourteen additional counties have been added to the State’s monitoring list for three or more days. That means public spaces such as restaurants, wineries, gyms, and places of worship must halt all indoor operations, but may continue to operate outside or by curbside pick-up. The additional counties are: Alameda, Colusa, Madera, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Placer, San Benito, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, Yolo, and Yuba.

July 22, 2020:

(San Francisco): The San Francisco Department of Public Health revised its Stay Safer at Home order to allow some additional businesses to reopen, while halting all in-office operations for nonessential business. Those businesses permitted to resume operations include certain retail stores for goods, logistics businesses for manufacturing and warehousing, outdoor dining for restaurants, and spectator-free sporting and entertainment events. Further, the agency authorized the resumption outdoor operations for museums, golf and tennis facilities, dog parks, and limited outdoor social gatherings.

Those businesses permitted to resume operations must comply with a series of general and business-specific requirements. Each business, for example, must establish a “Social Distancing Protocol,” and distribute the “Personnel Screening Handout.”

The updated order, however, also closes all indoor shopping malls to in-store operations. This includes shopping centers that previously received written approval of the health officer to resume indoor-retail operations and essential businesses within those shopping centers.

The revised order will remain in effect until rescinded or modified.

July 20, 2020:

Last Friday, the California Department of Public Health released new guidance for the re-opening of schools to in-person learning. Under the State’s plan, school re-openings will occur on a district-by-district basis. The ability for a particular district re-open depends largely upon whether the district’s home county is on the State’s County Monitoring List, which currently lists 33 counties.

Schools located in counties that are on the County Monitoring List must not physically open for in-person instruction until their county has come off the County Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days. Schools in counties that have not been on the County Monitoring List for the prior 14 days may begin in-person instruction, following public health guidelines.

The Department also issued updated guidance for when schools must physically close and revert to distance learning because of COVID-19 infections. Following a confirmed case of a student who was at school during his or her infectious period, the guidance recommends that other exposed students and staff be quarantined for 14 days. Further, the school should revert to distance learning when multiple cohorts have cases or five percent of students and staff test positive within a 14-day period. Districts are also recommended to revert to distance learning when 25 percent or more of their schools have been physically closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days. After 14 days, school districts may return to in-person instruction with the approval of the local public health officer.

July 13, 2020:

Governor Newsom announced a statewide prohibition today on all indoor operations. The affected businesses include restaurants, bars, wineries, movie theaters and entertainment venues, zoos, museums, and cardrooms. The Governor also reminded all Californians that there is a statewide mask mandate in place in all public spaces. Additionally, the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts have announced that they will operate fully remote in the fall.

The number of California counties that have now been on the State’s county variance watchlist for a consecutive three-day period and must rollback their operations has increased from 19 to 30. The complete list of affected counties is as follows: Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Yolo, Yuba, and Ventura counties.

July 7, 2020:

Following last Tuesday’s Executive Order N-71-20, California is requiring all counties who have been on the State’s watchlist for three consecutive days to reimpose restrictions. This does not currently apply to any counties beyond the 19 included when Governor Newsom announced these measures on June 30 (Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Solano, Tulare, Ventura). The list of affected counties can be found on the state’s county variance site here. Unless they can be modified to operate completely outside, affected counties will be required to shut down all operations in the following industries:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries/tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Entertainment centers (such as bowling alleys, arcades, miniature golf, batting cages)
  • Zoos
  • Museums
  • Cardrooms

Counties on the watchlist that are required to shut down the above sectors may continue to operate the following businesses: hair salons/barbershops, casinos, gyms, hotels, campgrounds, outdoor recreation areas, and personal care services (such as nail and waxing salons).

July 1, 2020:

In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Newsom announced the immediate ban on all indoor services in certain industries in those counties that have been on the State’s watchlist for three consecutive days. As of today, the list of counties impacted by this proclamation numbers 19: Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Imperial, Ventura, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tulare, Solano, Merced, and Glenn counties. The affected industries include restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms. The Governor told the press that these closures will remain in effect for at least three weeks.

Also on Tuesday, Newson issued Executive Order N-71-20, extending the authorization for local governments in California to halt evictions for renters impacted by the pandemic. The current authorization will expire September 30, 2020.

June 30, 2020:

On Monday, Governor Newsom signed California’s 2020 Budget Act, which authorizes a $202.1 billion spending plan aimed to strengthen both California’s economy and emergency pandemic response efforts. The Act also addresses a $54.3 billion budget shortfall precipitated by the COVID-19 recession. It estimates $5.7 billion in spending towards personal protective equipment, hospital surge preparation, and other expenditures to support populations at greater risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, the Act includes support for local school districts and counties hardest hit by the pandemic, and allocates $4.5 billion and $1.3 billion to school districts and counties, respectively, in order to address the public health impacts of the pandemic.

June 29, 2020:

Governor Newsom declared a budget emergency in order to make additional state funds and resources available for pandemic response efforts. This declaration will allow the state legislature to pass legislation to draw from the State’s rainy-day fund to ensure access to funding for medical equipment, including personal protective equipment.

June 24, 2020:

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-70-20, extending portions of Executive Order N-54-20. The order extends through August 21, 2020, the California Public Resource Code provisions imposing fines for failing to properly recycle and suspending the minimum hours of operation for recycling centers.

June 22, 2020:

Last week the CDPH issued new guidance on face coverings to be worn in public or common spaces. Per the new guidance, Californians must wear face coverings when in any of the designated “high-risk” situations.

Additionally the Department revised the COVID-19 County Variance Attestation Form, which is required in order for a county to move through Stage 2 of the Resilience Roadmap. The most notable changes from the original Variance Attestation Form have been made to the Epidemiological Stability section, which now requires that counties must demonstrate a stable or decreasing number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 by a 7-day average of daily percent change of no greater than 5% in the total number of hospitalized, confirmed patients or no more than 20 total confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized in any one day during the past 14 days.

June 16, 2020:

Governor Newsom moved to extend a certain licensing and continuing education deadlines for real estate services and continue allowing food trucks to operate in roadside rest areas on Monday. Executive Order N-69-20 modifies the following licensing requirements or deadlines:

  • extends the deadline for paying real estate licensing or renewal fees by an additional 60 days;
  • extends continuing education requirements real estate licenses by an additional 60 days; and
  • suspends for another 60 days the restriction on commercially licensed food trucks to operate and sell food in designated safety roadside rest areas.

June 15, 2020:

The State set a June 19, 2020 deadline for re-opening personal-care services over the weekend. Although individual counties may delay re-opening personal-care services—nail salons, tattoo parlors, and body waxing—the State is now recommending that these services may resume operations on June 19.

As with the State’s phased re-opening of other economic sectors, those businesses are strongly encouraged to implement the State’s industry-specific guidance. In addition to providing recommendations for risk assessments, training, and disinfection and distancing protocols, the guidance provides a detailed list of measures for the following businesses: (1) esthetician, skin care, and cosmetology; (2) electrology services; (3) nail salons; (4) tattoo and body art services; and (5) massage services.

June 10, 2020:

Governor Newsom will allow a number of additional businesses to resume full or limited operation on June 12. The businesses include movie theaters, restaurants and bars, museums, gyms and fitness centers, hotels (for tourism and individual travel), cardrooms, and campgrounds.

To re-open, these businesses are strongly encouraged to implement the State’s industry-specific guidance, while also ensuring compliance with applicable county restrictions. Counties continue to possess the authority impose tighter restrictions than those implemented statewide.

The guidance documents for each business category contain the following overarching recommendations: (1) perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan; (2) train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms; (3) implement individual control measures and screenings; (4) implement disinfecting protocols; and (5) implement physical distancing guidelines. The guidance documents also outline detailed, industry-specific measures for implementing each of those recommendations.

Below are the links to guidance documents for the businesses permitted to resume operations on June 12:

Businesses, of course, must pay particular attention to the restrictions imposed by the individual counties in which they conduct operations. Seven counties, for example, have yet to move in the State’s “Expanded Stage 2,” which includes much of the San Francisco Bay Area.

June 8, 2020:

Governor Newsom authorized the issuance of temporary registrations for businesses seeking to manufacture over-the-counter drugs and medical devices and extended several additional workers’ compensation related deadlines on June 5. Executive Order N-68-20 allows firms to self-certify their compliance with applicable laws for the manufacture of over-the-counter drugs and medical devices to obtain a temporary registration with the State to manufacture those products. These temporary registrations will last for six months and recipients may apply for an additional six-month registration upon the original registration’s expiration.

Executive Order N-68-20 also extended the following labor-related statutory deadlines by 60 days: (1) Labor Code section 5909, related to the period of time a petition for reconsideration is deemed to have been denied by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board; and (2) Labor Code section 5315, related to the period of time in which the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board must act on any decision submitted by a Workers’ Compensation judge.

Executive Order N-68-20 does not contain an expiration date.

June 1, 2020:

All but seven counties in the State have progressed further into Stage 2 of Governor Newsom’s re-opening process. In this “Expanded Stage 2,” retail stores may re-open and restaurants may resume dine-in services. The exact timeline for re-opening those businesses depends upon the re-opening process set forth in individual county plans.

Governor Newsom also took action to extend numerous legal deadlines for individuals and businesses through Executive Order N-66-20 (“Order”). Among those extended deadlines are the following:

  • the license-renewal deadline for alcohol licenses is extended by 60 days, provided the licensee submits the license fee and any renewal penalty fees that may be due;
  • the deadlines for annual fees, renewal fees, license expirations, and completing annual financial reports, for gambling businesses suspending operations during the pandemic emergency; and
  • waives for additional 60 days the prohibition on driver’s license renewals via mail.

In addition, the Order requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to waive certain regulations governing administration of Emergency Services Grant funding received under the CARES Act, develop alternative streamlined procedures, and implement reasonable accommodations for HCD-funded projects that have been negatively affected by the pandemic, to help ensure project feasibility.

May 26, 2020:

The number of counties seeking to progress further into the State’s second stage of re-opening has risen to 46. Among those counties, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties recently filed paperwork with the State permitting further re-opening. For each of these counties—subject to a particular county’s decision to further restrict social and economic life—dine-in restaurants, bars, shopping malls, among other businesses, may resume operations in accordance with the State’s industry-specific guidance documents.

May 19, 2020:

The State’s transition away from safer-at-home restrictions will occur primarily—or at least initially—on a county-by-county basis.

So far at least 23 counties have sought to progress further into the second of the four-stage re-opening under the Governor’s new variance criteria. To satisfy the new standards, each county must attest that it has met various benchmarks concerning its hospitalization rate, testing capacity, rate of new cases, and surge capacity. The counties must also develop county plans detailing which sectors and spaces will be opened, in what sequence, and on what timeline.

The effect of satisfying those criteria is that certain business—such as dine-in restaurants, bars, and shopping malls—may resume modified operations. Many others, however, will remain closed for the duration of this second stage. Community centers, pools, entertainment venues (movie theaters, casinos), museums, nightclubs, concert venues, festivals, and hotels and lodging for tourism are among those businesses that cannot yet resume operations.

Individual counties, of course, are free to adopt more stringent curbs on social and economic activity even as much of the State pursues re-opening.

May 10, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-63-20 on May 7, 2020, which alters a variety of labor-related administrative action, filing, and appeal deadlines. The extensions are plainly aimed at alleviating the burdens placed upon workers’ compensation and other labor-related administrative functions. The effect of the Governor’s action, however, is to further prolong the resolution of employment-related disputes.

The following statutory and regulatory deadlines are extended by 60 days:

  • the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s Labor Commissioner’s deadline for filing preferred claims, mechanics’ liens, and other liens on behalf of employees;
  • the timeframe within which the State’s administrative director must act upon Medical Provider Network applications;
  • the deadline for submitting applications for the Return-to-Work Supplement;
  • the deadline by which Workers’ Compensation Administrative Law judges must issue decisions;
  • the period in which a party must request that the parties’ differences be submitted to a factfinding panel under Meyers-Milias-Brown Act post-impasse resolution procedures;
  • the period in which a party must request that the parties’ differences be submitted to a factfinding panel under Educational Employment Relations Act post-impasse resolution procedures; and
  • the deadline by which a party must request that the parties’ differences be submitted to a factfinding panel under Educational Employment Relations Act post-impasse resolution procedures.

The Order also extends by 60 days the following Cal/OSHA and other employment dispute filing and appeal deadlines, as well as certain administrative enforcement deadlines:

  • all Labor Code sections and related regulations setting the time for the Labor Commissioner to issue any citation under the Labor Code, including a civil wage and penalty assessments;
  • the deadlines for any employer or other person to appeal or petition for review of any citation issued by the Labor Commissioner;
  • the period in which workers may file complaints and initiate proceedings with the Labor Commissioner;
  • the issuance of Cal/OSHA citations; and
  • the deadlines to appeal citations, notices, or orders of Cal/OSHA.

May 8, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued new guidance for industries across the economic spectrum for obtaining the ability re-open. The guidance varies amongst the industries in some respects, but it generally provides a five-factor framework that all businesses must satisfy before being allowed to resume operations. The purpose of the guidance is to allow certain lower-risk workplaces to gradually re-open, including retail, manufacturing, and logistics businesses.

The framework requires businesses to take the following measures: (1) perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan; (2) train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms; (3) implement individual control measures and screenings; (4) implement disinfecting protocols; and (5) implement physical distancing guidelines.

Once a business demonstrates its compliance with and implementation of the above framework, it may re-open. While all industries remain subject to same cleaning and six-foot physical distancing requirements, the guidance contains industry-specific measures for securing authorization to re-open. For example:

  • Retailers should increase pickup and delivery service options and encourage physical distancing during pickup;
  • Retailers should install hands-free devices, if possible, including motion sensor lights, contactless payment systems, automatic soap and paper towel dispensers, and timecard systems;
  • Manufacturing companies should close breakrooms, use barriers, or increase distance between tables/chairs to separate workers and discourage congregating during breaks;
  • Warehouses should minimize transaction time between warehouse employees and transportation personnel, and perform gate check-ins and paperwork digitally if feasible; and
  • Warehouse workers should clean delivery vehicles and equipment before and after delivery, carry additional sanitation materials during deliveries, and use clean personal protective equipment for each delivery stop.

Governor Newsom has not indicated when the State may progress beyond this second stage of re-opening and allow higher-risk businesses, such as movie theaters, to open.

May 7, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued two Executive Orders on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, aimed at providing additional tax relief for small businesses and making it easier for employees to claim workers’ compensation benefits. These orders are part of the State’s effort to facilitate its transition to a partial reopening on Friday, May 8, 2020.

For the next 60 days, insurance carriers and self-insured employers providing workers’ compensation benefits must presume that employees claiming COVID-19 related illness are entitled to compensation. Executive Order N-62-20 provides a rebuttable presumption that employees testing positive for or diagnosed with COVID-19 after March 19, 2020, contracted the illness in the course of their employment. The presumption does not apply to employees working from home, and any employee claiming a COVID-19 diagnosis must have that diagnosis confirmed through testing within 30 days. Executive Order N-62-20 also requires all insurance carriers and self-insured employers to reject workers’ compensation claims within 30 days to avoid the presumption of compensability.

Executive Order N-61-20 allows small businesses experiencing COVID-19 related economic hardship to avoid late-payment penalties for real property taxes due after April 10, 2020, through May 6, 2021. Further, small businesses now have until May 31, 2020, to file business personal property statements to avoid penalties.

May 1, 2020:

The State’s county clerks now possess the discretion to issue marriage licenses through videoconferencing. Executive Order N-58-20 allows remote marriages for the next 60 days provided both adults are located within the State and present for the videoconference.

April 24, 2020:

The State of California took additional measures to limit in-person contact, alleviate the financial impact of the pandemic, and enable environmental reviews to proceed in the COVID-19 age. Governor Newsom’s April 23, 2020 Executive Order N-54-20 addresses these and other issues.

First, the Order suspended through June 30, 2020 or for a period of 60 days several license and registration renewal deadlines for motor vehicles. For example, the requirement to carry current Motor Carrier Property Permits and the registration and registration display requirements for vehicles operated upon a highway are both suspended.

Next, the Order allows the State to satisfy the posting, filing and notice requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) through electronic means, which enables public access and involvement consistent with COVID-19 public health concerns.

Lastly, the Order permits retailers, particularly grocery stores, to provide bags to consumers without charge, and to pause redemption of beverage containers in-store to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

April 23, 2020:

On April 22, 2020, Governor Newsom indicated that California is one step closer to reopening. Earlier this month, the Governor set forth six critical indicators for determining whether to modify the State’s stay-at-home order. One of those indicators concerns ensuring the State’s hospitals and health care delivery system are able to handle surges in COVID-19 related cases. The State has satisfied that indicator to such an extent that Governor Newsom will permit hospitals and health systems to resume delayed medical care for Californians, including heart valve replacements, angioplasty and tumor removals, and other key preventive care services.

April 20, 2020:

Governor Newsom recently took several steps to prepare for the State’s economic recovery as California continues to flatten the curve. In addition to identifying six critical indicators for modification of the State’s stay-at-home order, Governor Newsom set up a Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.

The Task Force comprises political, business, health care, and academic leaders. Its objective is to develop short, medium, and long-terms solutions for counteracting the COVID-19 induced recession and charting an equitable path forward for the State’s economic growth. While combating the economic effects of COVID-19 is not the Task Force’s exclusive focus, it will feature prominently in the State’s effort to determine if the following six indicators are met and allow for California’s opening:

  • The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
  • The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

April 17, 2020:

Governor Newsom recently issued several Executive Orders aimed at facilitating the award of unemployment benefits and easing licensing requirements for certain businesses. Most significantly, Governor Newsom created a Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program, which entitles workers within certain parts of the food industry to a supplemental sick-leave benefit.

Under Executive Order N-51-20, certain employers of “Food Sector Workers” are required to offer sick-leave benefits as part of the Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program. A Food Sector Worker is one working in the canning, freezing, and food preserving industries; those industries handling products after harvest; those employed in an agricultural occupation; and workers in the industries preparing agricultural products for market on the farm. Only those workers, however, experiencing a loss of hours because of required or employer-advised quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 qualify to receive the benefit, which is in addition to any other paid-leave benefit under California law.

The scope of the supplemental benefit depends upon whether the worker is full or part time. Full time workers receive 80 hours of paid leave, while part-time workers receive paid leave equal to the number of hours normally worked during a two-week period. The employer, however, is not required to pay more than a total $5,110 per employee or $511 per day for the duration of the order.

A qualifying employer is any entity employing 500 or more employees. The order mandates the award of paid-leave benefits to a Food Sector Worker upon request unless the employer already provides a paid-leave benefit related to COVID-19 equivalent to the supplemental benefit. The Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program remains operative so long as the state’s stay-at-home orders remain in effect.

Separately, Executive Order N-52-20 modifies the following licensing requirements or deadlines:

  • Extends the deadline for paying real estate licensing or renewal fees by 60 days;
  • Extends continuing education requirements real estate licenses by 60 days;
  • Extends the fit-for-duty requirement for harbor pilot license renewals to December 31, 2020, for licenses expiring between April 1 and July 31, 2020;
  • Extends licenses issued to privately owned or operated ambulances used to respond to emergency calls, privately owned armored cars, and fleet owner inspection and maintenance stations expiring after March 4, 2020, by 60 days;
  • Extends the deadline for holders of commercial driver’s licenses expiring after March 1, 20202, to obtain a medical certificate to June 30, 2020;
  • Streamlines criminal background checks for employment in critical sectors; and
  • Suspends for a period of 60 days the restriction on commercially licensed food trucks to operate and sell food in designated safety roadside rest areas.

April 8, 2020:

On April 7, 2020, Governor Newsom declared that all sales of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to the State are exempt from sales and use taxes. Executive Order N-46-20 is California’s latest effort relieve the shortages of PPE for healthcare workers combating the coronavirus. The order will remain in effect indefinitely.

April 6, 2020:

Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-44-20 (“Order”) in an apparent effort to protect the State’s consumers against possible price gauging for certain essential goods. The Order limits the ability of businesses or individuals to increase the prices for those goods from now until September 4, 2020.

The Order creates two limitations on price increases. First, if business sold any of the below goods on February 4, 2020, the business cannot increase the costs of those goods by more than 10 percent above the price it sold those goods for on February 4, 2020. Next, if the business did not sell one or more of the goods on February 4, 2020, then the business cannot sell the good a price that is 50 percent greater than (a) the cost to procure the good or (b) the costs produce and sell the good.

The goods covered by the Order are: food items, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and any other materials designated as Scarce or Threatened Materials under Defense Production Act.

April 3, 2020:

On April 1, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order to counteract the surge in COVID-19 cases across California and the corresponding shortage of personal protective equipment (“PPE”). The order authorizes the expenditure of funds out of “any . . . fund legally available” to the State for the purchase of PPE, medical equipment, and other “expenditures necessary to respond to the threat and spread of COVID-19.”

Governor Newsom also issued an order to ensure that individuals and small businesses continue receiving water service during the pandemic.  Executive Order N-42-20 suspends the authority of urban and community water systems, as well as other water system providers to discontinue service for nonpayment.  Thus, those water providers supplying water services to small businesses qualifying as Critical Infrastructure (see our prior analysis of this designation) cannot discontinue service for COVID related nonpayment until the Governor rescinds the order.  The order remains in effect indefinitely. 

April 1, 2020:

Late on March 30, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-40-20. The Order extends or authorizes the extension of a variety of legal deadlines for individuals and businesses.

For example, the Order impacts certain filing or related deadlines as follows:

  • Authorizes the extension of the deadline to request an extension to file taxes for businesses and individuals filing a return for less than $1 million in tax for taxes due by July 31, 2020;
  • Extends the deadline for seeking a tax refund by 60 days, which applies to all taxes due by July 31, 2020;
  • Extends the appeal deadlines for tax appeals to the Office of Tax Appeals by 60 days, which is effective through July 31, 2020;
  • Authorizes the extension of the license-renewal deadline for alcohol licenses for up to 60 days, provided the licensee submits the license fee and any renewal penalty fees that may be due;
  • Extends numerous deadlines, including for annual fees, renewal fees, license expirations, and completing annual financial reports, for gambling businesses suspending operations during the pandemic emergency;
  • Extends a variety of Medicare enrollment and appeal deadlines by 60 days;
  • Suspends the requirement for holding in-person shareholder meetings for all meetings that must occur before June 30, 2020, and suspends a corporation’s obligation to seek written shareholder approval to hold any such meetings electronically;
  • Authorizes the release of bank account information by the Franchise Tax Board for unemployment benefit claimants through July 15, 2020, for the purpose of paying unemployment benefits; and
  • Waives for 60 days the prohibition on driver’s license renewals via mail.

March 30, 2020:

On March 27, Governor Newsom ordered a 60-day moratorium on all eviction proceedings resulting from the pandemic. The Executive Order is effective immediately and will remain in effect through May 31 (“Order”).

The Order prevents the eviction of certain qualifying tenants for the Order’s duration.  The tenant must satisfy three criteria to obtain eviction relief. First, the tenant must have previously paid rent to the landlord. Second, he or she must have lost the ability to pay rent because of (a) suspected COVID-19 sickness, (b) the loss of employment or reduced hours resulting from COVID-19, or (c) the need to miss work to care for children because of school closures. Third, the tenant must have verifiable documentation showing a change in circumstances preventing the payment of rent.  The tenant has seven days after a rental payment is due to notify the landlord of an inability to pay.

The Order also extends the five-day deadline set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure § 1167 to respond to a complaint and summons seeking eviction. The tenant now has 60 days to respond to the complaint and summons.

March 26, 2020:  

On March 25, Governor Newsom announced a new financial relief package for Californians struggling with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The package contains four main components.  First, financial institutions will offer mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers.  Next, financial institutions will not report derogatory tradelines (late payments) to credit reporting agencies for those taking advantage of the relief package.  Third, for at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions.  Lastly, for at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund certain fees or payments, including mortgage-related late fees and fees for early CD withdrawals.

March 19, 2020:

(Statewide): On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 (the “Order”), which was effective immediately and until further notice. The Order requires all residents to stay home, except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of “Essential Critical Infrastructure” sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer may designate. Essential Critical Infrastructure are identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”)’s “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response,” dated March 19, 2020 (the “Memorandum”). The Memorandum defined Critical Infrastructure Workers as persons who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, such as healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works. The State Public Health Officer also issued a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” that are allowed to leave their residences to travel to and from work.

March 17, 2020:

Governor Newsom announced that he has placed the California National Guard on alert. The National Guard has been directed by the Governor to be prepared to perform humanitarian missions across the state including food distribution, ensuring resiliency of supply lines, as well as supporting public safety as required.

March 15, 2020:

Governor Newsom called for all bars, wineries, nightclubs, and brewpubs to close and urged seniors and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves at home in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

March 13, 2020:  

Governor Newsom announced information on how to file unemployment related to COVID-19.

March 4, 2020:

(Statewide): On March 4, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a Proclamation of a State of Emergency for California.

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