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California Under Stay-At-Home Order, Shutting Down Non-Essential Businesses


California Governor Gavin Newsom recently issued Executive Order N-33-20, requiring all Californians – except for those falling within an exception discussed below – to stay at home indefinitely. The Order carves out exceptions to maintain the continuity of 13 of the critical infrastructure sectors identified by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The State Public Health Officer also issued a list of Essential Critical Infrastructure sectors that are exempt from the Executive Order.

[Ed. Note: As of April 28, 2020, the State Public Health Officer’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure sectors was updated to include links to relevant guidance. You should review the list to see if there is guidance published for your sector or consult with your Fisher Phillips attorney.]

California’s Essential Critical Infrastructure

The State Public Health Officer has designated the following 13 sectors as Essential Critical Infrastructure and the employees in those sectors that are permitted to continue working in California:

Businesses May Also Still Have to Obey Local Orders

Businesses and organizations falling under the critical infrastructure categories need not receive special authorization from the state to continue operations. However, employers located in a county or city that has issued a local Shelter in Place (or similar) Order should consult their local order to determine whether their business or organization faces additional restrictions.  Nonetheless, it is questionable whether a local order may prohibit a business from operating that is designated as part of the federal critical infrastructure.

Businesses Face Serious Consequences for Failing to Comply

Persons who flout the Executive Order can face criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 and/or six months imprisonment. 

In addition, California law provides other mechanisms that provide a strong incentive for businesses to comply with the Executive Order:


For now, we 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 California offices, or any member of our COVID-19 Taskforce. You can also review our nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus and our FP Resource Center For Employers, maintained by our Taskforce.

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

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