The Latest COVID Updates Including New ColorCoded COVID Reopening Guidelines As of 8/31
On Friday, August 28, Governor Newsom announced that California is moving away from its “watch list” system and shifting to a simplified color-coded set of COVID-19 guidelines for counties to allow the gradual reopening of business and activities. We’d like to briefly summarize this new system for you, and notify you on the latest regarding schools and the workplace.
State Color-Coded COVID Guidance. The new four-tier, color-coded classification of COVID restrictions takes effect today, August 31. Under this “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” every County is assigned a tier or color depending on the number of new daily COVID cases and the testing positivity rate. A County must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before it can move forward. The four tiers are:
- Purple, meaning COVID is widespread, so most non-essential business operations are closed
- Red, meaning COVID is substantial, so some non-essential businesses are
- Orange, meaning COVID is moderate, so some businesses are open with modifications
- Yellow, with minimal COVID spread, so most businesses operate with
Pools and Fitness Facilities. As of now, all Counties in Southern California are classified as purple, with the exception of San Diego County which is red. This is most relevant to our HOAs in terms of indoor facilities. To be clear, outdoor swimming pools and any outdoor fitness facilities may remain open in all of Southern California in accordance with the guidance that has been in effect this summer.
Indoor fitness facilities and indoor swimming pools in all of Southern California (purple) must remain closed at this time. San Diego County (red) is the sole exception – indoor fitness facilities and indoor swimming pools may open, but they must be limited to just 10% of normal capacity. The new guidance has also made it clear that all saunas, spas and steam rooms in all Southern California counties (including San Diego) must remain closed at this time.
For more info, please visit the State’s COVID website at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/ Schools. Many of you are interested in knowing when schools will be allowed to reopen for in- person instruction. Under the new color-coded system, the general rule is that schools in counties on the purple list (all of Southern California except San Diego) cannot reopen until that county has moved to the red classification for at least 14 days.
As noted above, San Diego County is in the red list, and it is expected that schools there will begin a slow and gradual reopening process on September 1. For the rest of Southern California, even if a county is on the purple list, schools may still apply for a waiver from their local health department to reopen for students in grades K-6.
Several schools in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties have been issued such waivers, but officials in LA County say their county is not yet ready to issue waivers because of the high COVID rate. A list of elementary schools that have been granted waivers is available
Hair and Nail Salons. For those of you excited to get your hair or nails done, hair salons and barbershops are finally allowed to open with indoor operations in all of Southern California. Nail salons may now open indoors in San Diego County with some modifications, but are only allowed outdoor operations in the rest of Southern California.
COVID in the Workplace. We know many of you are wondering what happens if one of your employees tests positive for COVID. The State’s “Employer Playbook” sets forth the game plan available at https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/employer-playbook-for-safe-reopening–en.pdf
While the Employer Playbook is fairly complex, the key takeaways are:
- Make sure the worker who tested positive does not remain at the office, and provide them instructions before they are sent home (contacting medical provider, sick leave rights)
- Give the employee a workers’ comp form and let the insurance carrier decide if the virus
was contracted at work
- Report any outbreak (3 or more confirmed COVID cases) to your local health department, and provide them with information on confirmed COVID cases
- Consider contacting your local health department for guidance even if there are less than 3 cases
- Report to Cal/OSHA any serious illness that occurred at work (including COVID if it requires hospitalization)
- Notify all workers who were potentially exposed to the infected individual, while maintaining the confidentiality of workers with suspected or confirmed COVID infection
- Make sure all workers follow instructions for infection prevention and outbreak management measures
- Clean and disinfect the work area used by the infected employee
- Seek guidance from your local health department to develop a testing strategy to determine who needs to be
- Closing your business is generally not mandatory, but “businesses may elect to voluntarily suspend operations when a case of COVID-19, exposure to COVID-19, or an outbreak has occurred.” However, the local health department still has authority to close your
- Consult with the local health department and most recent CDC guidance on when an individual with COVID may return to
Importantly, the State Legislature is currently considering a new law known as AB 685 which would give significant powers to Cal/OSHA, including the ability to prohibit entry into a place of employment where there is COVID exposure. It would require employers to take various actions within 1 business day of notice of potential exposure, including notifying all employees who were on the premises and giving them certain specified information. AB 685 has not yet been approved, but could be approved today. We will give you more information if and when the State approves it.
Los Angeles County – BBQ and Outdoor Fitness. Among all of Southern California, LA County has been issuing the most COVID specific guidance. For instance, outdoor BBQ grills in common areas in multi family residential communities can remain open as long as individuals use face covering (except when eating) and maintain physical distancing from those who are not part of their household. LA County also clarified that face coverings are not required while engaged in outdoor activities that require heavy exertion as long as 8 feet of distance from others is maintained.
Community Legal Advisors Inc.
Michael Alti, Esq.