Santa Clara County wasted no time in altering its public health regulations in response to the county’s graduation to the ‘yellow tier’ of California’s Blueprint For a Safer Economy on May 18, 2021. Within hours, the County announced a new Public Health Order that went into effect on May 19, 2021.
The Order retires several of the most burdensome requirements of the County’s October 5, 2020, Risk Reduction Order. As a result, businesses are no longer required to (1) maximize the number of people who work remotely; (2) submit Social Distancing Protocols to the County Public Health Department; or (3) observe County-issued limitations on in-person capacity.
However, the Order imposes several new requirements on employers, including:
- Face Coverings: All businesses must require employees and customers to wear face coverings in accordance with the Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings.
- Capacity limitations: Some businesses remain subject to State-issued COVID-19-related capacity limitations and must limit the number of people inside their facilities to a certain percentage of their usual maximum occupancy.
- Industry-Specific Requirements: Businesses must follow any industry-specific guidance from the State.
- Mandatory Reporting Regarding Personnel Contracting COVID-19: Businesses must require that all personnel immediately alert the business if they test positive for COVID-19 and were present in the workplace either:
- within the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms or within 10 days after onset of symptoms if they were symptomatic, or
- within 48 hours prior to the date on which they were tested or within 10 days after the date on which they were tested if they were asymptomatic.
If a business learns that any of its personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 and were at the workplace during the specified time frame, the business is required to report the positive case within 24 hours to the County Public Health Department at sccsafeworkplace.org.
Businesses must also comply with all case investigation and contact tracing measures directed by the County.
- Ascertainment of Vaccination Status: Businesses must ascertain the vaccination status of all personnel. Under the order, personnel includes employees, contractors, and volunteers. Until a person’s vaccination status is ascertained, they must be treated as not fully vaccinated. Personnel who decline to provide vaccination status must also be treated as unvaccinated.
Businesses must complete their initial ascertainment of vaccination status for all personnel within 14 days of May 19, 2021, or no later than June 1, 2021. Thereafter, businesses must obtain updated vaccination status for all personnel who were not fully vaccinated every 14 days (e.g., June 15, June 29, July 13, etc.). Businesses must maintain appropriate records to demonstrate compliance with this provision. The County has provided a template self-certification form for this purpose.
- Mandatory Rules for Personnel not Fully Vaccinated: Businesses must require all personnel who are not fully vaccinated to:
- comply with all applicable provisions of the Mandatory Directive on Use of Face Coverings, and
- comply with all applicable provisions of the Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Unvaccinated Personnel.
In announcing the new Order, the County’s Health Officer indicated additional changes will occur in conjunction with California’s “reopening” on June 15, 2021. Dr. Cody predicted the future changes will even further differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Employers doing business in the County must act quickly to reconcile their new obligations under the Order with other California laws, chiefly the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), which is enforced by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”). The DFEH previously issued guidance for employers that will assist in this endeavor.
Jackson Lewis continues to track COVID-19 compliance requirements for employers. If you have questions about the Santa Clara Order or related COVID-19 requirements contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.