On October 7, 2021, Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced that the city will relax indoor face mask requirements in certain settings if hospitalization rates remain stable or decline. The change will take effect October 15, 2021. Read the announcement. Continue Reading San Francisco Relaxes Mask Requirements for Indoor Settings With Groups of Vaccinated Individuals Who Regularly Interact

On August 12, 2021, the City of San Francisco revised its Health Order C19-07y (the “Order”) to mandate certain San Francisco businesses and operations verify proof of vaccination of its staff and patrons in response to the surge of cases caused by the COVID-19 delta variant.

Who does this apply to?

The revised Order requires: (1) businesses and events that serve food or drink indoors (e.g., dining establishments, bars, clubs, theaters, and entertainment venues); (2) gyms, recreation facilities, yoga studios, and other fitness establishments; and (3) indoor events with 1,000+ person attendance, to verify patrons 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated prior to entering the business’ or event’s indoor facilities starting August 20, 2021, ascertain the vaccination status of staff by August 20, 2021, and ensure staff who routinely work onsite are fully vaccinated before entering or working in any indoor portion of the facility by October 13, 2021, with limited exceptions and subject to applicable federal, state, or local laws requiring accommodations.

Continue Reading City of San Francisco Updates its Health Order to Mandate Certain Businesses Verify Proof of Vaccination

By: Allan E. Low and Anne Li

Update: This article was updated on January 19, 2021, to include that the commercial eviction moratorium went into effect on January 11, 2021. The bullet points featuring the four tiers of the commercial tenants, created by the Board Ordinance, were also updated to include that each tier’s full-time employee count is as of November 1, 2020.

On December 1, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a commercial eviction moratorium ordinance (the Board Ordinance), which Board Ordinance came into effect on January 11, 2021. When the Board Ordinance became effective, the mayor’s previous executive orders which impose a moratorium on commercial evictions (the Mayor’s Moratorium) terminated. Continue Reading San Francisco Board of Supervisors Enacts a New Commercial Eviction Moratorium Ordinance

The City and County of San Francisco recently enacted an emergency Ordinance, the text of which is available here, effective September 11, 2020, which prevents all employers from taking adverse employment actions (e.g., firing, threatening to fire, disciplining, or in any manner discriminating) against employees and independent contractors (collectively “Workers,” as defined in the Ordinance) related to absences caused by COVID-19. The Ordinance is effective for 60 days through November 10, 2020 (unless extended) and applies to any Worker who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is isolating or quarantining, or has previously isolated or quarantined, due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure (a “COVID-19 Absence”). The Ordinance prevents adverse actions during or within 90 days of a COVID-19 Absence. Continue Reading New San Francisco COVID-19–Related Employment Protections Ordinance

On April 17, San Francisco Mayor London Breed signed into law the Emergency Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO), which requires large employers to provide paid sick leave benefits mirroring those required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). PHELO covers employers with more than 500 employees nationally. Importantly, employers must provide notice to employees by April 20, 2020 via a manner calculated to reach all employees: by posting in a conspicuous place at the workplace, via electronic communication, and/or by posting in a conspicuous place on an employer’s web-based or app-based platform.

Employees covered by PHELO include part-time and temporary hires and individuals employed through temporary services and/or staffing agencies who work  in the City or County of San Francisco. Although prior versions required a minimum number of hours worked within the last year, the final version of PHELO includes no such requirement.

Continue Reading San Francisco Extended Sick Leave Ordinance Enacted

COVID-19 States of Emergency Ending

The federal government and the State of California announced they are ending their states of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. California has announced it is lifting its state of emergency on February 28, 2023. In January, the White House announced that the national and public health emergencies related to COVID-19 will end on May 11.

Municipalities are following suit. For example, San Francisco announced on February 16 that its COVID-19 public health emergency declaration will expire on February 28. This means San Francisco employers are no longer required to provide their workers with 80 hours of Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) for COVID-19-related reasons. Prior analysis of San Francisco’s PHEL is available here. Also, the City of Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach ended their supplemental paid sick leave (PSL) on February 15 and February 21, respectively. A description of the status of the City of Los Angeles’ supplemental PSL can be found here.

Unlike the other cities, Oakland is considering extending its local state of emergency, which would extend local supplemental PSL related to COVID-19. Los Angeles County has not indicated when it will end its local emergency and, in turn, its supplemental PSL program. Thus, employers in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and the city of Oakland should continue to monitor.

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Non-Emergency Regulation

Even with states of emergency being lifted, employers must continue to follow the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 regulations. On February 3, 2023, the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulation (Non-Emergency Regulation). Cal/OSHA passed the Non-Emergency Regulation on December 15, 2022; OAL approval had been anticipated for weeks. These new regulations went into effect immediately upon OAL’s approval and will continue until February 3, 2025. Employers are required to keep records related to the Non-Emergency Regulation until February 3, 2026.

The Non-Emergency Regulation continues some requirements of the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), as well as new provisions designed to make it easier for employers to protect workers and allow flexibility if changes are made to guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Cal/OSHA has posted a fact sheet and FAQs for reference.

Employers should seek the advice of counsel if they have questions on how to modify their policies and practices to comply with the Non-Emergency Regulation.

As the COVID-19 landscape evolves and the Omicron variant pervades, state and local governments and health authorities have modified their recommendations, guidance, and regulations in an effort to manage the pandemic.

For example, on December 30, 2021, following the CDC’s December 27, 2021, changes to its quarantine and isolation recommendations, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued “Guidance for Local Health Jurisdictions on Isolation and Quarantine of the General Public.” Among other things, the CDPH updated its guidelines to “align with the updated timeframes within the recent CDC update and recommend additional mitigation measures, including continued focus on testing and masking to best contain this more transmissible variant in our communities.” Likewise, on January 5, 2022, the CDPH issued “Guidance for the Use of Face Masks” wherein they are now “requiring masks be worn in all public settings, irrespective of vaccine status, until February 15, 2022.” The CDPH does note a few exemptions to the mask requirements.

Similarly, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has updated various guidelines. For example, on December 29, 2021, the department updated Health Order C19-07y, which, among other things, updated booster requirements for individuals working in “designated high-risk settings” and temporarily suspended certain exemptions to the indoor universal mask requirement until February 1, 2022. The department also updated its “Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine” on December 31, 2022, and January 5, 2022. The changes updated recommendations for the isolation and quarantine period and who needs to quarantine, defined “Up-to-Date on COVID-19 vaccination,” and updated its summary chart regarding isolation and quarantine.

Because the guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19 are rapidly changing, employers should closely monitor federal, state, and local guidance to stay up to date.

Seven Bay Area counties and the City of Berkeley issued Health Orders mandating mask use for indoor public spaces such as places of work. The Orders apply to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. However, the Orders provide exceptions for individuals working alone in a closed office space, individuals that are eating or drinking, and individuals specifically exempted by the California Department of Public Health guidance such as individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. The indoor mask mandates are effective August 3, 2021 and will continue to be in effect until rescinded. If your company has business in any of these locations, please review each applicable order for detailed information.

Note that in the workplace, workers must also follow Cal/OSHA mask requirements. Please consult with legal counsel for questions related to the Health Orders or Cal/OSHA.

The links to the relevant Health Orders are included below: Continue Reading Bay Area Counties Issue Indoor Mask Orders Effective August 3, 2021

Seven Bay Area Counties– Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma—and the City of Berkley issued a press release on July 16, 2021 strongly recommending that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places, including workplaces, to protect against the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19.  The use of masks is recommended for indoor settings such as grocery or retail stores, theaters and family entertainment centers and workplaces (when you do not know everyone’s vaccination status).  Companies with employees who work in the Bay Area should contact experienced counsel with any questions.

Governor Gavin Newsom has updated California’s limited Stay at Home order with additional restrictions on a regional basis (the “Regional Stay at Home Order”).  The Regional Stay at Home Order, announced December 3, 2020, will go into effect within 48 hours in regions in California (defined below) with less than 15%  intensive care unit availability. As described in the Regional Stay Home Order FAQ, it “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” The Regional Stay at Home Order will remain in effect for at least three weeks and will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial three-week period.

The five regions and the counties making up those regions are as follows:

    • Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity
    • Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
    • Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba
    • San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
    • Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

In regions where the order is triggered, the following businesses will be required to close: Restaurants for all on-site dining (but not take-out or delivery), wineries and breweries, playgrounds, indoor recreational facilities, hair salons, personal care services, museums, movie theaters, cardrooms, and family entertainment centers. Other sectors will have additional modifications; for example, retail stores and shopping centers can stay open indoors at a cap of 20% capacity. Hotels may remain open for critical infrastructure support, as can offices. Places of worship can hold outdoor services only. In what will likely be perceived as good news by parents, schools serving K-12 students will not be affected by the order. Those open for classroom instruction now can remain so. Further detail is provided in the Regional Stay at Home Order.

Importantly, the Governor’s office expressly reminded Californians that counties can have more restrictive criteria. Click here to see the status for a specific county. To go to the state’s website and review the FAQs regarding this latest updated order, click here.

Companies doing business in California should consult with experienced legal counsel about how this Regional Stay at Home Order may impact their business operations.