June 9, 2020

California Businesses Must Consult Local Guidelines Before Reopening

Holland & Knight West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog
Letitia D. Moore
Breaking Ground: West Coast Real Estate and Land Use Blog

California will remain under a stay-at-home order for the foreseeable future. However, the state has laid out a four-phase reopening plan (Resilience Roadmap) for businesses, subject to certain modifications to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19).

On May 8, 2020, California entered into Stage 2, which allows the gradual reopening of lower-risk workplaces, including manufacturing, retail, low-risk offices, outdoor museums and galleries, as well as limited personal services in addition to the essential services that were permitted to operate during Stage 1. Additionally, counties that satisfy the California Department of Public Health's minimum criteria may file a Variance Attestation to allow dine-in service at restaurants, and barbershops and hair salons to resume service. Los Angeles County issued a five-phased Roadmap to Recovery that similarly outlines particular milestones that must be achieved prior to resuming business operations.

As of June 1, 2020, almost all California counties have qualified and filed a Variance Attestation to operate in the latter part of Stage 2.1 However, in addition to consulting with the state's industry-specific guidelines, businesses are strongly urged to check with their local city and county to ensure that local jurisdictions are permitting those operations to resume and whether adherence to stricter local guidelines is required.

Los Angeles County, for example, also issued supplemental guidelines and protocols for businesses that are currently permitted to operate and is drafting guidelines for those industries that have not yet been permitted to reopen. The county guidance for outdoor dining recommends that food and beverage operators place six-foot-high impermeable barriers to protect diners from pedestrians when a six-foot social/physical distance is not possible, and appoint ambassadors to monitor social distancing practices during busy times. Further south, San Diego County is similarly setting more stringent guidelines. San Diego County mandates that employers conduct temperature screenings of all employees and prohibit the entry of any employee with a temperature of 100 degrees or more.2 In comparison, the state guidelines recommend temperature or symptom screening at the beginning of a shift, but allow for employee self-screening at home as an alternative to workplace screening. In the city and county of San Francisco, the local amended Health Order includes guidelines that specifically address outdoor museums and gardens, dog parks, and golf and tennis activities. In comparison, the state issued guidelines for outdoor museums, galleries and other outdoor exhibition spaces, and for dog walking businesses, but has not issued guidelines for dog parks or golf and tennis activities.

Below is a list of industries that are permitted to reopen under California's Stage 2 Resilience Roadmap:

What's Open

Essential services that protect public health, public safety and provide essential needs, such as:

  • gas stations
  • pharmacies
  • grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • banks
  • laundromats/laundry services
  • essential state and local government functions, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services

Retailers, including:

  • shopping malls
  • libraries (for delivery and curbside pickup)
  • drive-in theaters (with modifications)
  • bookstores
  • jewelry stores
  • toy stores
  • clothing and shoe stores
  • home and furnishing stores
  • sporting goods stores
  • florists

Office-based businesses may reopen, but teleworking remains strongly encouraged.

Limited services and venues that do not generally require close customer contact, such as:

  • pet grooming
  • dog walking
  • car washes
  • appliance repair
  • residential and janitorial cleaning
  • places of worship (with modifications)
  • plumbing
  • outdoor museums and galleries

Latter Stage 2 business operations that may resume if a county has met the state's public health requirements and files a variance attestation include:

  • dine-in service at restaurants
  • hair salons and barbershops
  • tribal casinos

Approved to open after June 12, 2020:

  • family entertainment centers
  • restaurants, wineries, and bars
  • zoos and museums
  • gyms and fitness centers
  • hotels (for tourism and individual travel)
  • cardrooms and racetracks
  • campgrounds and outdoor recreation

What's Still Closed

The following business operations will be authorized to reopen in Phases 3 and 4:

  • personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, body waxing
  • indoor playgrounds such as bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag
  • movie theaters and live theater
  • saunas and steam rooms
  • nightclubs
  • concert venues
  • festivals
  • theme parks
  • higher education


1 The San Francisco Bay Area counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — as well as Imperial County in Southern California, have not filed an Attestation Variance to resume business operations permitted under the latter part of Stage 2.

2 The San Diego County Health Order permits symptom screenings in the event that a thermometer is not available. Employees exhibiting symptoms as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shall not be permitted to enter the workplace.

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