On Monday, July 13, 2020, the Director of the California Department of Public Health issued an order closing all California bars, pubs, brewpubs, and breweries, and limiting several other sectors’ ability to operate indoors. 

Given the continually changing legal landscape, we strongly encourage employers to reach out to Raimondo & Associates with questions regarding specific situations. We are closely monitoring these developments. Because of these frequent developments, and the need to adapt the general guidance below to specific circumstances, employers should consult counsel regarding specific circumstances.

At a general level, the legal rules and guidance we summarize below should not be applied in a manner that would prevent employers from taking reasonable, common-sense steps to protect the health and safety of employees, customers, vendors and their communities. There are many nuances and fact-specific elements that make individualized legal counsel on these questions of critical importance.

Q: What does the July 13 Order do? 

According to the California Department of Public Health’s Statewide Public Health Officer Order on July 13, 2020, bars, pubs, brewpubs, and breweries are all prohibited from operating indoors or outdoors, with a few notable exceptions.

Bars, pubs, brewpubs, and breweries are permitted to operate outdoors if they are offering sit-down, outdoor, dine-in meals. Alcohol can be sold only in the same transaction as a meal. If the establishment cannot provide sit-down meals, but can contract with another vendor to do so, both businesses can serve sit-down, outdoor, dine-in meals, so long as both business follow California’s dine-in restaurant guidance. 

Except as noted below, the same closure Order also applies to (1) gyms and fitness centers; (2) places of worship; (3) protests; (4) offices for “non-critical infrastructure sectors”; (5) personal care services (nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors); (6) hair salons and barbershops; and (7) malls. 

However, the seven indoor-restricted business sectors are all permitted to operate outdoors, so long as it is operating in an area that does not have more than one side is covered, not counting overhead coverings that provide shade.

Q: Am I permitted to operate my business outdoors?

Yes and no. California has been clear that the above-referenced business sectors may not operate indoors, but may continue to operate outdoors, so long as the patrons and businesses adhere to the State’s mandates for the business’s respective sector.

However, some local governments, like the City of Fresno, have enacted stricter requirements for businesses that wish to operate outdoors. Fresno’s Code Enforcement Department acknowledges that business may operate outdoors, in accordance with California guidance, so long as the business gets permission from the Fresno County Department of Public Health [559.600.3000] and the Fresno County Department of Environmental Health [559.600.3357]. Businesses that wish to operate outdoors in the City of Fresno must also contact the Fresno County Planning Department [559.621.8277] to learn if the business’s location is zoned to allow for outdoor operations. Finally, if the business requires a special license or certificate, the business must confirm with the California board that oversees the license or certificate if the business is cleared to work outdoors. 

Q: Do California agency mandates or orders carry the same weight as gubernatorial executive orders?

Yes. Non-gubernatorial mandates or orders by California state agencies are orders that carry the full weight of the law.