April 9, 2020

L.A.'s Worker Protection Order Requires Workers to Wear Face Coverings

Holland & Knight's West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog
Linda Auerbach Allderdice | Karl J. Lott | Erin Kansy
Breaking Ground: West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog

In support of the Safer At Home Order for the City of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a new Public Order, the "Worker Protection Order" (the Order), under the city's Emergency Authority to further prevent the spread of COVID‑19. The Order, in part, requires all workers who work at certain listed non-medical essential businesses to wear face masks or coverings while performing their work. Among others, the businesses that are listed include property managers, leasing agents, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman servicers, landscapers, gardeners, private security personnel, grocery store workers, restaurant and retail food workers, and hotel and shared rental unit employees.

The Order goes into effect on April 10, 2020, and continues for the duration of the local emergency period. All workers of the businesses listed in the Order must wear at least non-medical grade face masks or coverings over their noses and mouths. At this time, the coverings need not be medical-grade masks or N95 respirators, but rather can be fabric coverings such as scarves or bandanas. Reusable face coverings must be washed at least once per day and single-use coverings must be properly discarded after each use.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

Employers of such workers, which would include, in part, building owners, property managers and landlords, must follow certain requirements in furtherance of the Order, as follows:

  1. permit their employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes
  2. provide, at the employer's expense, non-medical grade face coverings for all of their employees
  3. ensure employees have access to clean, sanitary restrooms, stocked with all necessary cleaning products, or sanitizing agents that are required under the hand sanitation protocols recommended by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
  4. implement social distancing measures for customers, visitors and employees that provide a 6-foot buffer, to the extent possible, between individuals

How Does This Impact Property Managers and Tenants?

The Order requires that any "visitor or customer" of a non-medical essential business listed in the Order wear a face covering that covers his or her nose and mouth. This includes anyone who visits a building that is managed by a property manager for the purpose of doing business with the property manager, such as vendors, service providers and delivery personnel. A business owner, including a building owner, can refuse "admission or service" to any individual who fails to wear such a face covering.

If a commercial tenant is one of the businesses that is covered by the Order, all workers of the tenant must comply with the Order and wear face coverings, and the tenants are required to take action to ensure their own workers are complying with the Order. However, the Order does not seem to require property managers or building owners to enforce the requirement for commercial tenants to wear face coverings at all times while in the building, or to refuse access to tenants who are not wearing face coverings. Property managers and building owners are required to implement social distancing measures for customers, visitors and employees, including providing a 6-foot buffer, to the extent possible, between all individuals.

Even though property managers and building owners may not be required to refuse access to commercial tenants who are not wearing the required face coverings, they may find it wise to put up notices in their buildings regarding the Order and notify all tenants that the Order requires all workers of the listed businesses who enter the building to wear the required face coverings. Additionally, building owners and property managers have the right to prevent a tenant from accessing the parking office or building management office if the tenant is not wearing a face covering.

Enforcement

Failure to comply with any part of the Order will constitute a misdemeanor subject to fines and imprisonment.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer or the author of this alert for timely advice.

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