[UPDATE: May 26, 2020]

All employers, including nonprofits, have been struggling with keeping up with the changing rules and laws applicable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But just in the past week or so, the pace of “reopenings” has accelerated around the nation, including in California. The definition of “essential activities” will change or at least somewhat fade.

This is a rapidly developing story and we’ll be updating it frequently as the new rules begin to come into focus.


[April 6, 2020]

In this pandemic, the threshold question is whether a particular business or organization is exempted from the stay-at-home orders in California and most other states.

Before Governor Newsom’s statewide order on March 19, 2020, certain local jurisdictions and regions had already imposed broadly restrictive orders on activities. The Governor’s Declarationbrought myriad county and city public-health directives under a single umbrella” [and] “created a modicum of order to what had been patchwork of local responses, some specific, some less so.”

There is still no nationwide order; in any event, the individual states have the authority to act on these matters. The state’s order takes precedence, but doesn’t preclude local governments from enacting more stringent requirements that are consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order.

Based on the order of California’s public-health chief, there are 13 sectors designated as “Essential Critical Infrastructure” and the workers in those sectors are permitted to continue working. There is a federal list of 16 “critical infrastructure” designations which is advisory only. California’s list, to a large extent, reflects the federal designations.

“Businesses and organizations falling under the critical infrastructure categories “need not receive special authorization from the state to continue operations.”

Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the nation to walk a tightrope. We have been asked to reconcile the interests of businesses and employees with stringent public health requirements needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

— Martin Levine, NPQ (5/26/20)

If a business is deemed essential, that ‘gives the employer much more discretion in terms of what they can ask employees to do’ [but it’s] a big gray area.’

— Sacramento Bee quoting James McGlamery, Esq. (3/20)

The comprehensive list ranges from first responders to restaurant delivery people and includes — yes — cannabis retail workers.

— CalMatters (3/20)



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