Legal Update

Mar 18, 2020

More California Counties Issue Shelter-in-Place Orders

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Seyfarth Synopsis: As of midnight on March 18, 2020, Sonoma, Monterey, and San Benito Counties in California joined the seven San Francisco Bay Area Counties to order their residents to shelter-in-place. Sacramento County issued a shelter-in-place recommendation, but has not yet issued a mandatory order. Orange County issued an order that was widely viewed as a shelter-in-place, but the County has since clarified that businesses are to remain open.

Sonoma, Monterey and San Benito Counties

Sonoma, Monterey and San Benito Counties’ orders are very similar to the other Bay Area orders. A full summary of the Bay Area orders can be found here. Most importantly, these orders require non-essential businesses to cease all activities unless employees can work remotely. They make exceptions for “Essential Businesses,” and for employees who must work onsite to provide “Minimum Basic Operations,” such as providing for payroll and benefits, inventory, and activities to allow other employees to work from home.

Monterey County’s order is unique in that it expressly includes hotels and motels as “Essential Businesses.” The other orders include only a more general category for “residential facilities.”  Monterey also includes commercial construction activities as “Essential Businesses.” 

Sonoma County’s order includes companies specific to the wine-making industry as “Essential Businesses.” The order expressly includes wineries (and breweries) to preserve inventory and production (though not for retail operations). The order also includes businesses necessary to support the cultivation, processing and distribution of food and agriculture as essential.

Sonoma, Monterey, and San Benito’s orders remain in effect until at least April 7, 2020, like the other Bay Area orders.

Orange County

Orange County issued a less detailed order that caused “wide-spread confusion” regarding its requirements. In response, Orange County issued a formal press release just before 7 p.m. on March 17, clarifying that the order “is NOT an order to shelter in place. It is not a lockdown.”  The press release further clarified that while adhering the State of California guidelines regarding the closure of bars and onsite dining, “it is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing[.]”

Orange County anticipates issuing an amended order.

Sacramento County

As of March 17, 2020, Sacramento County has not ordered residents to shelter in place. Instead, it issued a series of recommendations for residents and businesses. To the best of the public’s abilities, the County directs the implementation of the following:

  • Work from home. It asks businesses to implement telecommuting for employees, where appropriate. Only essential employees should come to work.
  • Stay Home. All residents should stay home, to the extent possible, unless they need to travel to an “essential site,” which include most of the “Essential Businesses” from the other orders.

The number of counties and municipalities issuing shelter in place orders is changing quickly. The counties that have issued orders also indicate that they may change them as conditions warrant. Based on press releases, Mendocino and Lake Counties, as well as the City of Chico, anticipate issuing shelter-in-place orders soon. We will follow changes and provide updates as they develop.