Note: These FAQs provide general guidance on how small businesses in the Los Angeles area can comply with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and reopening procedures. Each business owner must carefully evaluate the applicable orders to determine the compliance steps required for their individual business. This document does not constitute legal advice.
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|Q: Which stay-at-home orders apply to my business?|
|Businesses in the greater Los Angeles area must comply with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and related rules issued by the State of California, the County of Los Angeles and the government of the City or Cities in which they are located.
The statewide and countywide orders do not preempt stricter rules imposed at the city level. You should therefore review the requirements of each applicable order and ensure that you operate your business in compliance with each of them.
|Q: What’s in the California statewide stay-at-home order?|
|On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 (the “Original Statewide Order”) directing all California residents to stay home except as needed to maintain critical infrastructure sectors. Since the Original Statewide Order was issued, the statewide rules have been gradually modified and supplemented.
On August 29, 2020, Governor Newsom released an overhauled statewide reopening plan called the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” (the “Statewide Blueprint”). The Statewide Blueprint was most recently updated on April 28, 2021 and will likely continue to be updated over the coming months based on increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates. The State currently plans to remove all reopening restrictions and fully reopen its economy by June 15, 2021 if COVID-19 rates remain sufficiently low and vaccines remain available. General information about the new reopening plan can be found here.
1. Essential Businesses: Businesses classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure” were exempt from the Original Statewide Order and have been allowed to remain open, subject to certain operating restrictions. Examples of essential businesses include gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and essential government functions. A full list of businesses deemed “essential” under the statewide orders can be found here.
2. Non-Essential Businesses: Under the Original Statewide Order, all California businesses classified as non-essential were required to close all in-person operations. Examples of non-essential businesses include dine-in restaurants, entertainment venues, gyms and hair salons. Certain non-essential businesses have now been allowed to reopen on a county-by-county basis pursuant to the Statewide Blueprint.
3. Statewide Blueprint: Governor Newsom’s new COVID-19 reopening plan, the Statewide Blueprint, revises the criteria and procedures for loosening restrictions on certain business activities on a county-by-county basis. The prior reopening plan placed restrictions on certain counties listed on a statewide County Monitoring List. The Statewide Blueprint eliminates the County Monitoring List and instead classifies counties into four color-based groupings based on current COVID-19 rates:
A county’s assigned color, ranging from purple for “Widespread” cases to yellow for “Minimal” cases, determines the reopening restrictions and procedures applicable to businesses in that county. A detailed chart of reopening rules by color tier can be found here, and more information about the county classification process can be found here.
The Statewide Blueprint also contains revised criteria for counties to move forward to a less restrictive color classification. At a minimum, counties must remain in each tier for at least three weeks and must meet the next tier’s criteria for at least two weeks before moving into that tier. The state has created an online tool to check the current restrictions that apply to your business under the Statewide Blueprint. You can visit this website and enter your business type and county to view the current status (but it is important to remember that you must also comply with applicable county and city rules, which may be stricter than the statewide rules).
|Q: What’s in the Los Angeles County stay-at-home order?|
|On May 5, 2021, Los Angeles County issued a revised stay-at-home order entitled “Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community for Control of COVID-19” (“LA County Order”). The LA County Order aligns with the requirements set forth in the Statewide Blueprint for counties classified in the yellow or “Minimal” tier. The full text of the LA County Order can be found here. (Note that the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, although located within Los Angeles County, are not subject to the LA County Order. Businesses in these cities should instead refer to orders and guidance issued by their respective City Health Officers.)
1. Essential Businesses: Essential businesses in Los Angeles County are allowed to remain open during the period covered by the LA County Order, but must implement and maintain a Social Distancing Protocol, which can be found here (non-essential businesses must follow separate reopening protocols, as discussed below). Los Angeles County operates an online Business & Worker Disaster Help Center, which is available to assist businesses in determining whether they qualify as “essential” under the LA County Order. The Help Center can be accessed here. An FAQ sheet with additional guidance from the county can be found here.
2. Higher-Risk Non-Essential Businesses: All non-essential businesses classified as “Higher-Risk” businesses under the LA County Order must remain closed while the order is in effect. Businesses classified as Higher-Risk include lounges, nightclubs, and events and gatherings.
3. Lower-Risk Non-Essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses not classified as Higher-Risk may remain open during the period covered by the LA County Order, subject to certain operational restrictions. The applicable operational restrictions vary based on the type of business and are set forth in the county protocols discussed below. Among other restrictions, retail businesses must limit indoor capacity to 75% of maximum occupancy, and restaurants must limit indoor dining 50% of maximum occupancy and must implement certain spacing requirements between tables. Lower-Risk non-essential businesses include retail, personal care services (including hair and nail salons), restaurants, manufacturing and logistics businesses that support retail, and indoor malls and shopping centers.
Lower-Risk non-essential businesses remaining open during the LA County Order must adhere to the applicable county protocol, as listed below. These protocols address operational restrictions and safety requirements such as social distancing, cloth facemasks, and building occupancy limits. Lower-Risk non-essential businesses should carefully review the applicable protocol to make sure all requirements are met. The full list of reopening protocols can be found here. Reopening toolkits for certain business sectors can be found here. Note that these protocols were developed before the recent update to the LA County Order and that some of them have not yet been revised to align with that update. If the protocol applicable to your business is dated prior to May 5, 2021, the protocol has not been updated, and you should reach out to the LA County Department of Public Health to ensure that your business is complying with all applicable requirements.
a. Non-essential retail businesses reopening for in-person shopping must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Retail Establishments: Opening for In Person Shopping, which can be found here.
b. Manufacturing and logistics businesses that support non-essential retail businesses must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocol for Warehousing, Manufacturing and Logistic Establishments, which can be found here.
c. Non-essential office-based businesses may reopen for indoor operations at 75% capacity. Any in-person operations must comply with the Reopening Protocol for Office Worksites, which can be found here.
d. Indoor malls and shopping centers must prepare, implement and post the mandatory Reopening Protocols for Shopping Center Operators, which can be found here. Higher-Risk non-essential businesses within indoor malls and shopping centers must remain closed.
e. Restaurants must prepare, implement and follow the Protocol for Restaurants, which can be found here.
f. Bars must limit indoor capacity to the lower of 25% or 100 people and must prepare and implement the Reopening Protocol for Bars, which can be found here.
g. Certain family entertainment centers, including miniature golf, batting cages and go cart racing, may open for indoor operations at 25% capacity and must prepare and post the Protocol for Family Entertainment Centers, which can be found here.
h. Personal Care Establishments, including hair and nail salons, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors, must prepare, implement and post the Protocol for Personal Care Establishments, which can be found here.
i. Music, television and film production must prepare, implement and follow the Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production, which can be found here.
j. Gyms and other fitness facilities must limit indoor capacity to 50% and must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Gyms and Fitness Establishments, which can be found here.
k. Campgrounds and RV parks must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Campgrounds, RV parks, and Cabin Rental Units, which can be found here.
l. Hotels, lodging and short-term rental services must prepare, implement and post the Reopening Protocol for Hotels, Lodging and Short-Term Rentals, which can be found here.
m. Movie theaters must prepare, implement and post the Protocol for Movie Theaters, which can be found here.
4. Cloth Mask Requirement: The Social Distancing Protocol (for essential businesses) and reopening protocols (for non-essential businesses) require employers in Los Angeles County to provide cloth facemasks to all employees whose duties require contact with other employees and/or the public.
|Q: What’s in the City of Los Angeles stay-at-home order?|
|On May 6, 2021, Mayor Garcetti issued a Revised Safer L.A. Order (the “City Order”). The City Order aligns with the requirements of the Statewide Blueprint and the LA County Order. The full text of the City Order can be found here.
1. Essential Businesses: The City Order allows essential businesses to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency, subject to the operational restrictions set forth in the LA County Order. The City Order’s classification of essential and non-essential businesses aligns with the LA County Order and Statewide Blueprint. An FAQ sheet and more detailed guidance for businesses under the City Order can be found here and here.
2. Non-Essential Businesses: The restrictions placed on non-essential businesses by the City Order align with those of the LA County Order. Non-essential businesses classified as Higher-Risk must close while the order is in place, while Lower-Risk non-essential businesses may reopen subject to the restrictions set forth in the LA County Order and the applicable county protocols.
Additionally, public-facing businesses, including retail stores and restaurants, must comply with the following notice requirements under the City Order:
a. The applicable county protocol must be posted at or near the entrance to the facility so that it is easily viewable by the public and employees;
b. Copies of the protocol must be provided to each employee performing work at the facility; and
c. The business must be able to provide evidence that the applicable protocol is being implemented.
3. Cloth Mask Requirement: Pursuant to the City Order and a separate Worker Protection Order (which can be found here), businesses conducting in-person operations in the City of Los Angeles must require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings. These businesses must provide their employees with face coverings at the employer’s expense and employees must be permitted to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer at least every 30 minutes. Businesses may refuse service to any customer not wearing a face covering.
|Q: What resources are available if my business is adversely impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic?|
|For general guidance on resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, please refer, among other resources, to Bet Tzedek’s FAQ sheets https://www.bettzedek.org/our-services/resources/
The following specific resources are also available:
1. SBDC Advisors: Advisors from the Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Council are available to assist small business owners at no cost with questions about disaster preparedness and recovery. Call (562) 938-5020 for more information, or view the LA SBDC COVID-19 Response Guide here.
2. Microloan Program: The City of Los Angeles will support small businesses impacted by the stay-at-home orders through its Small Business Emergency Microloan program. This program offers no-fee microloans of up to $20,000 to cover working capital. Information about the program can be found here. Additional financing resources are described here.
3. Resilience Toolkit: A COVID-19 Small Business Resilience Toolkit prepared by the City of Los Angeles can be found here.
|Q: Are in-person religious services allowed?|
|While places of worship in the greater Los Angeles area generally are not exempt from compliance with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, recent judicial rulings have eliminated some of the operating restrictions placed on them under the Statewide Blueprint, as further described below. Places of worship in Los Angeles County must also still comply with COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and related rules issued by the County and the government of the city or cities in which they are located.
1. Statewide Rules: In response to recent judicial rulings, places of worship in California are no longer subject to mandatory indoor capacity limits under the Statewide Blueprint, but the State recommends that places of worship located in yellow or “Minimal” tier counties, including Los Angeles County, limit indoor activities to 50% of capacity. The Statewide Blueprint also contains certain physical distancing and other restrictions that remain mandatory and are further described here under “Places of worship and cultural ceremonies – updated May 4, 2021.”
2. Los Angeles County Rules: Places of worship conducting services in Los Angeles County must comply with the mandatory requirements for yellow or “Minimal” tier counties under the Statewide Blueprint and must prepare and implement the County’s Social Distancing Protocol, which can be found here. Place of worship may have fully vaccinated attendees sit in a designated section in accordance with the protocol.
3. City of Los Angeles Rules: The City Order requires places of worship to prepare and implement the County protocol referenced above and to comply with the mandatory requirements for yellow or “Minimal” tier counties under the Statewide Blueprint.
|Q: What if my business is in a different county or city?|
|Owners of businesses located outside of Los Angeles County should contact their county health department for information on any applicable county stay-at-home orders. Not all counties have issued stay-at-home orders. Links to county-level COVID-19 guidance and orders can be found here.
Owners of businesses located in a city other than Los Angeles (whether within or outside of Los Angeles County) should contact their city mayor’s office or health department for information on any applicable city stay-at-home orders. Not all cities have issued stay-at-home orders.
Additionally, the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, although located within Los Angeles County, are not subject to the LA County Order. Businesses in these cities should instead refer to orders and guidance issued by their respective City Health Officers.
|Q: Where should I look for updates to the stay-at-home orders?|
|1. Here is where to find statewide updates.
2. Here is where to find Los Angeles County updates.
3. Here is where to find City of Los Angeles updates.