Governor Newsom Uses a "Dimmer Switch" Model to Roll Back the State Reopening Process for Certain Industry Sectors and Counties
Posted July 14, 2020

During his weekly press conference on July 13, 2020, Governor Newsom announced that certain industry sectors and county areas must roll back their reopening procedures, effective immediately.

Governor Newsom said that “based on the trend lines,” ALL counties in California must immediately close all indoor operations for the following sectors:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (i.e., bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms

Governor Newsom also mandated that ALL bars, brewpubs, breweries and pubs must remain closed on a statewide basis. This mandatory closure applies to all such operations, both indoor and outdoor.

In addition to the statewide mandatory industry sector-based closures noted above, certain counties that have remained on the County Monitoring List for at least three consecutive days must immediately shut down the following industries and activities unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up:

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services such as nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

Governor Newsom indicated that these changes represent California’s move into a “modification” of its stay at home order by utilizing a “dimmer switch” approach. He stated that this is not an “On” (open economy) or “Off” (closed economy) process, but a “dimmer switch” approach that will allow the state to adjust to current COVID-19 conditions on a more flexible basis, and according to the current trend lines when “those trend lines become points of concern.”

As of July 13, 2020, the affected (dimmed) counties are:

  • Colusa
  • Contra Costa
  • Fresno
  • Glenn
  • Imperial
  • Kings
  • Los Angeles
  • Madera
  • Marin
  • Merced
  • Monterey
  • Napa
  • Orange
  • Placer
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento
  • San Benito
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Joaquin
  • Santa Barbara
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Stanislaus
  • Sutter
  • Tulare
  • Yolo
  • Yuba
  • Ventura
  • This list represents 30 of 58 California counties, and approximately 80 percent of the state’s population. Governor Newsom also said he anticipates two to three more counties will be added to this list in the next few days. He also said that as the trend lines correct themselves, counties can move off of the county monitoring list.

    Governor Newsom indicated that the sector and county-based closures noted above are necessary due to the escalating number of coronavirus cases (California has averaged 8,211 new COVID-19 cases each day over the past week), and the fact that hospitalizations have steadily increased across the state.

    For those affected counties, we can expect that the county governments and local health agencies will provide additional local orders and information.

    PRACTICE TIP: For those employers who have already launched their reopening efforts and now must shut down again, consider a temporary furlough for existing employees to keep them on payroll pending further information. COVID-19 status and protections change by the week (sometimes by the day!), and you may be able to bring your employees back sooner than expected. Remember that FFCRA benefits are not available to employees when there is no work available to be performed, such as during a furlough or mandatory state quarantine.

    Remember also that a furlough of longer than 10 days may be alleged to be a termination. While this does not create a basis for a wrongful termination action, it could lead to a claim for waiting time penalties if the employee claims that the furlough was actually a constructive (or actual) termination because of its duration. To avoid this risk, employers should pay out any compensation due as well as accrued vacation at the time of the furlough to avoid a later claim for waiting time penalties.

    For further questions regarding COVID-19, local or state orders, or any other employment law questions, contact the employment attorneys at LightGabler for further assistance.

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