[UPDATE: November 14, 2020]

California’s new system for evaluating progress in the COVID-19 pandemic has been in place since late August. According to that plan, there have been forward movements for certain counties but – most recently, in response to the worsening infection rates around the nation including California – there have been reclassifications as well from the “red” tier to the most restrictive “purple” tier. San Diego County has just moved from red back to purple effective November 14, 2020. In accordance with this designation, the County of San Diego’s public-health officer issued a new, more restrictive order.

[Update 11/16/20]: Because of the alarming rise of cases in recent days, the governor has “pulled the emergency brake” on reopenings. Effective 11/17, most of the state will revert back to the most stringent restrictions; that is, effectively move back to the “purple” tier.]

For other jurisdictions, there are state-by-state online compilations of COVID-19 related orders including protocols for phased reopenings. See, for instance: Bouncing Back: A List of Statewide Return to Work Protocols (Last updated: October 29, 2020) Littler Mendelson LLP


[UPDATE: September 3, 2020]

This summer was marked by unfortunate (though predictable) rollbacks from the rapid (though in stages) reopening of California in May and June of 2020. Too many Californians lowered their guard and the state’s coronavirus cases spiked dramatically.

In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new system for monitoring counties and moving them back and forth to and from various levels of restriction, according to the severity of disease outbreaks. 


[UPDATE: May 25, 2020]

On May 18, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced important modifications to the Phase 2 Plan for gradually reopening California that he had announced on May 8, 2020. (The State of California has been under lock-down since mid-March with encouraging results that haven’t mimicked the overwhelming of health care facilities occurring in other locations.)

On May 25, 2020, the Governor’s Office approved the limited resumption of religious services statewide, subject to health and safety restrictions.

The new rules vary to a large extent county-by-county, with the most (current) easing occurring in the smaller, rural locales. They also vary industry by industry; some segments of the nonprofit sector are treated differently than others. These complex rules are developing. 


[April 1, 2020]

The current response to COVID-19 on the state levels involves: the Governor’s office, state departments and agencies, and the California Legislature.

The state’s central pandemic-response website is: California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response.

It includes all of the official actions and declarations by Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as action and information from the state’s executive branch. As with the federal level, many California agencies are involved in this response, enforcing existing laws, regulations, and rules, and updating guidance for the current circumstances. The references listed here are just a few of the many in effect.

In mid-March, the California legislature unanimously enacted S.B. 89 which amends the budget to make a massive appropriation on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislature is in recess until about mid-April, but that date could be changed.

Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

We are sounding the alarm. California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet – faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes. That is why we are pulling an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now is the time to do all we can – government at all levels and Californians across the state – to flatten the curve again as we have done before.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom (11/16/20)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created innumerable challenges for employers around the country, not the least of which are a slew of obligations under federal, state, and local laws…. A new California law, AB 685, adds yet another set of requirements for California employers…. effective … January 1, 2021, … requiring notification of employees of potential [COVID-19] exposure ….


— Alexander Dunn, Esq. (11/10/20)

We’re going to be more stubborn this time,….This more stringent, but we believe more steady approach.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, (8/28/20)

We recognize the conditions across the state are unique and distinctive depending where you are. The bottom line is people can go at their own pace and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials that understand their local communities and conditions better than any of us.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, (5/18/20)

The governor stressed a major strategy in California’s battle in the pandemic is to test, trace and quarantine people with COVID-19. That tracing component has lagged behind; only 23 of 58 counties are currently conducting contact tracing.

— Hannah Hagermann, NPR (April (5/4/20)

While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order. As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom (4/14/20)



Remote-Work Costs: Must Nonprofit Reimburse?

[June 5, 2020] Among the many adjustments that employers - including nonprofits - have had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic is the abrupt switch to remote work for some or all of their employees. That includes making sure that everyone in the workforce has needed hardware, software, and internet and phone connectivity.  California is among the jurisdictions that initiated early and mandatory stay-at-home orders for a large portion of the population and economy. There [...]

Filing Deadlines Extended for Nonprofit Organizations

[April 24, 2020] By the third week of March 2020, governments at all levels had begun to respond to the many questions and issues raised by the COVID-19 emergency, including - most notably - the curtailment or suspension of operations and activities by individuals and entities on account of new stay-at-home orders  and recommendations.  The necessary federal emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act was made in mid-March. The [...]

UPDATE: The CARES Act and Nonprofits

[March 27, 2020] The third prong of the Congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic - the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 747) - is now before the House of Representatives, having passed the Senate on Wednesday. The House is expected to approve it today with overwhelming support; voting is expected to begin shortly.  It could be signed at the White House and in effect before the end of this weekend. [...]

Some Good News: Funders are Stepping Up

Ten days ago, we posted Funders Must Step Up - Right Now! (March 16, 2020).   That same morning, influential blogger Vu Le had posted Funders, this is the rainy day you have been saving up for. Mr. Le has long been a vocal critic of many foundations’ viewing the five percent payout figure in the tax code as a ceiling instead of what it is: a floor.  During that week, as most of us were [...]

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The devastating pandemic has brought sudden and profound challenges for all of us.  In What Nonprofit Board Members Should Be Doing Right Now to Address the COVID-19 Situation, (March 16, 2020), the experts from BoardSource write:  “As the world responds to the threats of COVID-19, many nonprofits and their boards are wrestling with difficult questions and decisions.”  A rewrite of that sentence may be in order; every nonprofit and its board is flying blind in [...]

The Charitable Sector: COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus Package

America's charities request $60 billion infusion of support to help the most vulnerable March 18, 2020 The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic facing the country is having a profound impact on the economy and has greatly expanded the need for charitable organizations to provide additional services in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, the economic downturn will undoubtedly result in a contraction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable [...]

Coronavirus and Nonprofits: Challenges & Resources

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the news media focused on the minutiae of the primary-election horse race. This week, Americans have been forced to confront the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For the nonprofit sector, the emergency becomes a double-barreled crisis: we are both victims and saviors. This is not an unfamiliar conundrum; there are frequent natural disasters that devastate one area or another. This nation’s charitable organizations - and, in particular, the social [...]

Funders Must Step Up – Right Now!

“Funders,” writes nonprofit blogger Vu Le, “this is the rainy day you have been saving up for.”  Recently, we wrote about Mr. Le’s earlier plea for America’s foundations to step up their payouts beyond the “five percent rule” in the federal tax code. In an article last summer, he characterized it as a moral imperative: The ethical argument for foundations to increase their annual payout rate beyond 5% (August 4, 2019). This morning, it’s a [...]

Small Business Association Disaster Loan Guidance and Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has an existing program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, that extends disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by disasters.  On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the SBA announced that the program will be available to claims arising from COVID-19.  The SBA will work with state officials to offer loans of up to $2 million.  “These loans may be used to pay [...]

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