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Bay Area Counties Allow Certain Businesses And Construction Projects To Reopen While Extending Shelter-In-Place Order Through May 31


Six Bay Area counties and the city of Berkeley officially announced an extension of the regional COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Orders through May 31, 2020. The new Orders ease operating restrictions, allowing construction activities and businesses that operate primarily outdoors to resume operations with some restrictions. This kind of movement is giving businesses some hope that they may soon begin to open.

New Essential Business And Outdoor Business Permitted To Reopen

Businesses in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, as well as the City of Berkeley must continue to cease operations unless they are an Essential Business or an Outdoor Business. In addition to the previous Orders, the following businesses are now considered an Essential Business:

  1. The activities must be carried out in stable groups of 12 or fewer children (“stable” means that the same children are in the same group each day).
  2. Children shall not change from one group to another.
  3. If more than one group of children is at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.
  4. Providers or educators shall remain solely with one group of children. The Health Officer will carefully monitor the changing public health situation as well as any changes to the State Shelter Order. In the event that the state relaxes restrictions on childcare and related institutions and programs, the Health Officer will consider whether to similarly relax the restrictions imposed by this Order.

Outdoor Businesses are also permitted to re-open. An Outdoor Business is defined as a business that normally operated primarily outdoors prior to March 16, 2020 and has the ability to fully maintain social distancing of at least six feet between all persons. Outdoor Businesses under the Orders specifically include:

  1. Wholesale and retail plant nurseries, agricultural operations, and garden centers; and
  2. Service providers that primarily provide outdoor services, such as landscaping and gardening services, and environmental site remediation services.

Outdoor Businesses must conduct all business and transactions involving the public outdoors. For clarity, outdoor restaurants, cafes, or bars are not considered an Outdoor Business under the Orders.

Further, all businesses are still permitted to operate with Minimum Basic Operations, as long as Social Distancing Requirements are followed. Again, Minimum Basic Operations include:   

Additional Operating Requirements For Essential And Outdoor Businesses

The counties have also provided a revised Social Distancing Protocol to guide employers. A copy of the template may be accessed here.

Certain Construction Projects Must Implement Construction Safety Protocols

Finally, construction that resumes will have to comply with new Small and Large Construction Project Safety Protocols, which are provided by the Orders and may be accessed here. Applicable Construction employers must post signage in an area that is visible to individuals, instructing all individuals to: 

  1. Not touch their faces with unwashed hands or with gloves.
  2. Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  3. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as work stations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, machines, shared tools, elevator control buttons, and doorknobs.
  4. Cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into their elbows.
  5. Avoid entering the jobsite and stay home if they COVID-19 symptoms, if they feel sick, or have been exposed to anyone who is sick.
  6. Constantly observe their work distances in relation to other staff to maintain the recommended minimum six feet at all times when not wearing the necessary Personal Protective Equipment for working in close proximity to another person.
  7. Not carpool to and from the jobsite with anyone except members of their own household units, or as necessary for workers who have no alternative means of transportation.
  8. Not share phones or Personal Protective Equipment.

What Should Employers Do?

As you begin the process of reopening and planning to re-open, you should familiarize yourself with our alert: 5 Steps To Reopen Your Workplace, According To CDC’s Latest Guidance. You should also keep handy our 4-Step Plan For Handling Confirmed COVID-19 Cases When Your Business Reopens in the event you learn of a positive case at your workplace. For a more thorough analysis of the many issues you may encounter from a labor and employment perspective, we recommend you review our FP BEYOND THE CURVE: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers and our FP Resource Center For Employers.


Fisher Phillips will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Alert System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, any attorney in our San Francisco office, or any member of our Post-Pandemic Strategy Group Roster.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific developing situation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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