FAQ For Businesses - Shelter In Place Order

With the new  Superseding Order to Shelter In Place issued on March 31, 2020, the definitions of essential businesses have changed to provide more clarity, as well as some additional restrictions. We recommend all businesses review page 5 of the full Order to ensure compliance. 

FAQ FOR Businesses 

 

Will all business offices and stores be required to close? 

No. “Essential businesses” may keep their facilities open (and are strongly encouraged to keep them open) to continue providing essential services and products to the public. Employees may leave home to go to these jobs. But all businesses, including essential ones, are required to maximize the number of employees working from home and bring in only those employees who can’t carry out their job duties from home. Non-essential businesses must cease all activities at their facilities within the County, except to provide minimum basic operations, such as maintaining the value of a business’s inventory, keeping the business site safe and secure, ensuring that employees are able to work remotely, or providing for the delivery of existing inventory to residences or businesses. Employees may otherwise work from home. 

 

What are “Essential Businesses”? 

The Order specifically lists the “Essential Businesses”: 

 

What if my business is not considered an essential business? Does this Order require that I shut down my business facility? 

Yes, it does, except for the following “Minimum Basic Operations,” which are defined in the following excerpt from the Order: Rev. 3/31/2020 i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain and protect the value of the business’s inventory and facilities; ensure security, safety, and sanitation; process payroll and employee benefits; provide for the delivery of existing inventory directly to residences or businesses; and related functions. ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate owners, employees, and contractors of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences, and to ensure that the business can deliver its service remotely. Other than to maintain minimum basic operations, your employees can only work remotely from their residences. Any employees who are onsite must strictly follow the Order’s social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from one another (unless incompatible with the job duty), frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough. 

 

I work for a large technology company that provides products and services that the public needs to access critical services. Is my company being completely shut down? 

No. But most employees of these companies need to work from home. The only employees of these companies who can go to work are: (i) employees who are needed to maintain the minimum basic operations described in the Order; or (ii) employees who are needed to work onsite to operate, maintain, or repair Essential Infrastructure (i.e., essential global, national, and local infrastructure for internet, computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services for the community) and who cannot perform their work duties from home. Any employees who are onsite must strictly follow the Order’s social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from one another (unless incompatible with the job duty), frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough. 

 

Does the Order require that businesses stop work that is necessary to our healthcare system? 

No. The Order exempts any business that is performing work related to the delivery of health care, including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, and veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals. 

 

Can my company tend to its labs under this Order? 

It depends. Your lab may operate only if it performs work that is exempted in the Order. Otherwise, you and your employees are allowed to perform only minimum basic operations onsite at your workplace, and must strictly comply with the Order’s social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from one another, frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough. Other than that, employees cannot be onsite at your lab locations. 

 

Are non-profit organizations allowed to continue operating? 

Yes, if they provide essential services as described in the Order. This would include non-profits operating food pantries, providing housing for homeless residents, and providing other critical services. Non-profit organizations that do not provide essential services cannot continue operating their facilities, except to provide minimum basic operations, such as maintaining the value of inventory, keeping the site safe and secure, providing for the delivery of existing inventory to residences or businesses, or ensuring that employees are able to work remotely. All employees may also work remotely from their residences. Unless closer contact is necessary for their work, all employees must strictly comply with the Order’s social distancing requirements, including maintaining a distance of six feet from one another, frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an effective hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding all social interaction outside the household when sick with a fever or cough. Other than that, employees cannot be onsite at your lab locations. 

 

What if some of the work my business does at its facility is essential and some is non-essential? 

Businesses that include an Essential Business component at their facilities alongside non-essential components must scale down their in-person operations to the Essential Business component only. For instance, if 20% of manufacturing capacity in your business is devoted to essential products, and 80% of capacity is devoted to nonessential products, you can only operate at 20% capacity. The one exception to this rule is that retail businesses that sell a significant amount of essential products like food, personal hygiene, and consumer household products may keep their entire retail storefronts open even if some of the products they sell are non-essential. 

 

I operate a “big box store” that sells some clothing in addition to groceries and personal hygiene products. Can I keep open the part of my store that sells clothing? 

Yes. If your store sells a significant amount of groceries and hygiene products, you can keep your entire store open. I operate a store that mainly sells non-essential goods, but also sells a small amount of essential goods like food and hygiene products. 

 

Can I continue to sell products to customers at my storefront? 

No. If you do not sell a significant amount of goods like food, hygiene, or cleaning products, you cannot keep your storefront open. Your store can deliver items directly to customers’ residences. Other than that, you can only maintain minimum basic operations, such as store security and safeguarding your inventory. 

 

Can bike repair shops continue to operate? 

Yes, bike repair shops are treated as an essential business (the same as auto repair shops) because they are necessary to facilitate essential travel. 

 

Can my company continue to provide janitorial services to businesses? 

Yes, janitorial services are allowed because they are necessary for health and sanitation. 

 

Can grocery stores, farmers markets, and other food retailers remain open? 

Yes. Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other food retail establishments selling foods items and non-alcoholic drinks are encouraged to stay open to provide food items and pet supplies to the public. When visiting these places, you must help the retailer maintain Social Distancing Requirements, including while you are shopping and standing in line. 

 

I operate a food facility-- what practices should I follow to keep my patrons safe? 

Follow the best practices for allowable food facility operations included in Environmental Health’s guidance, found here. 

 

What if I have a cafeteria at my worksite. Can it continue to operate to serve workers who are doing work exempted in the Order? 

The cafeteria can operate like other food facilities. It can serve food to the remaining employees, so long as the employees take the food away and do not eat it in the cafeteria. The cafeteria must strictly follow the social distancing requirements in the Order. 

 

Can I operate my liquor store? 

You may keep your liquor store open if it also sells products like food, or household cleaning and personal hygiene items. 

 

I am in the business of manufacturing food that I supply to grocery stores and other food retailers. Am I required to shut down? 

No. Businesses that supply food goods and prepared meals to grocery stores and other food retailers are essential and may continue operating. 

 

Can warehouses and distribution centers that supply essential businesses stay open? 

Yes, but only to the extent they support or supply those essential businesses. Warehouses and distribution centers should minimize the number of employees onsite and strictly comply with all social distancing requirements in the Order. 

 

I operate a large retail store selling largely non-essential items, but we also sell some goods that essential businesses need to operate. Can I keep my retail store open as an essential business that supplies other essential businesses? 

No. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies they need to operate can remain open only for the purpose of supplying those essential businesses. They cannot stay open to keep making sales to the general public from retail storefronts. 

 

I operate a business that is required to close—can my business deliver things to people’s homes? 

Yes, non-essential businesses may maintain minimum basic operations. This includes making deliveries of existing inventory to people’s homes. 

 

My business provides critical services and products for the federal government that we are required to provide on a time-certain basis--can we continue to manufacture these products or perform these services? 

Employees and contractors of any governmental entity may continue to provide the services and products if the governmental entity determines that they are necessary to carry out an essential governmental function. 

 

Can gardening and landscaping services continue? 

Arborist, landscaping, and gardening services can continue if they are necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, operation of businesses or residences, or the safety of residents, employees, or the public (such as fire safety or tree trimming to prevent a dangerous condition). Landscapers and other professionals performing services under contract with governmental agencies should consult the relevant agency to determine whether their services are deemed essential. 

 

Can home service workers continue to provide their services? 

Home service workers can keep providing services in homes if they are essential to health, safety, sanitation, or the necessary operation of the home. Generally, this means that plumbing, pest control, important maintenance (to, for example, fix a water leak or a faulty wire), or similar services needed to maintain a safe and sanitary home are allowed. Purely cosmetic or other non-essential home services for general upkeep are not allowed and should be put off. Home-based care for children, adults, seniors, and pets is also allowed under the Order. 

 

What if I have a service or equipment emergency at my home, such as with plumbing or electricity? 

Service providers like plumbers, electricians, and exterminators can keep working and providing services to the public that are necessary to maintain a livable, sanitary, and functional household. You can call your building manager or one of these service providers, or you can also visit your hardware store to assist with making your own repairs. 

 

Can my pool maintenance company come to my house or business? 

Yes, so long as the service is necessary to maintain safety and sanitation. Allowable operations include routine maintenance work like cleaning, chemical balancing and adjustments, and filtration (necessary to, for instance, prevent pool algae from blooming) and safety-oriented repairs. 

 

Can real estate agents show residences in person? Or if I just closed on a home, can I do a walk-through of the home with the agent or seller? 

Generally, no. Real estate agents, escrow agents, and other service providers that facilitate residential transactions like home sales and apartment rentals are essential workers, but all appointments and viewings must happen virtually (via video or livestream). Only if a virtual viewing is not possible, then in-person showings can occur by appointment with no more than two visitors at a time from the same household, and only one agent showing the unit. In-person showings or walk-throughs are not allowed when the occupant is still living in the residence. 

 

Can notaries public continue to operate? 

Yes. 

 

Can title insurance companies continue to operate? 

Yes. 

 

Can cannabis be purchased on a “take-out” basis? 

Yes. 

 

Can I have cannabis delivered to my home?

Yes. The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people’s residences. 

 

Can auto dealerships sell cars online and deliver them to people’s homes? 

Yes. The Order allows businesses to deliver products to people’s residences. But car dealerships cannot sell or lease cars in-person. 

 

I work in a cemetery-- can I go to work? 

Yes, cemeteries are essential infrastructure. 

 

Are funeral home providers and mortuaries allowed to continue operating? 

Yes, funeral home providers and mortuaries may continue operating to the extent necessary to the transport, preparation, or processing of remains. This means that any employee necessary for the transport, preparation and/or processing of a body may continue to report to these facilities to conduct their work. 

 

Read the FULL SET OF NEW FAQS ISSUED MARCH 31, 2020


 

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