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Volume X, Number 305

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Los Angeles County and City Ban Gatherings and Order Immediate Closure of “Nonessential” Businesses in an Effort to Curb COVID-19: What You Need to Know About L.A.’s Safe At Home Orders

On March 19, 2020, Los Angeles County and City officials issued separate orders which significantly restrict public mobility and business operation in Los Angeles in an effort to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Both orders remain in effect from 11:59 p.m. on March 19, 2020 through April 19, 2020.

Violations of either order can be enforced as a misdemeanor and punishable by fines and imprisonment.

L.A. County Order: “Safe at Home Order For Control of COVID-19”

The L.A. County order prohibits all indoor and outdoor gatherings of 10 or more people.  It also requires the closure of all shopping centers, indoor malls, playgrounds and nonessential retail businesses.  Nonessential retail businesses are retail establishments that do not meet the order’s definition of “Essential Businesses.”

The order defines “Essential Businesses” (i.e., those which may remain open) as follows:

  1. Grocery and convenience stores, and stores that sell food and cleaning and personal care products, including certified farmers’ markets, food banks and food and produce stands.

  2. Food cultivation including farming, livestock and fishing.

  3. Business that provide food, shelter and services to the economically disadvantaged.

  4. Gas stations, and auto-supply, auto-repair, car dealerships, and related facilities.

  5. Banks, credit unions and related financial institutions.

  6. Hardware and building supply stores and nurseries.

  7. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, HVAC installers, carpenters, vegetation services, tree maintenance, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel and other service providers who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation to properties and other essential businesses.

  8. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services.

  9. Educational institutions (including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities) for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

  10. Laundromats, dry cleaners, laundry service providers and personal grooming services.

  11. Restaurants and other food facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery, drive thru or carry out.

  12. Businesses that supply office or computer products needed by people who work from home.

  13. Businesses that supply “Essential Business” with support or supplies necessary to operate.

  14. Businesses that provide logistical support (g., shipping and trucking) or deliver groceries to residences, Essential Business, Healthcare Operations or Essential Infrastructure.

  15. Airlines, taxis and private transportation companies providing services necessary for daily living or purposes authorized by the order.

  16. Businesses that provide parts and services for Essential Infrastructure.

  17. Home-based care for seniors, adults, disabled persons or children.

  18. Residential facilities for seniors, adults, disabled persons or children.

  19. Professional services (g., legal and accounting services) when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and permitting inspection, construction, transfer, and recording of ownership of housing.

  20. Military or defense contractors and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

  21. Childcare facilities that enable employees exempt from the order to work as permitted, with certain conditions.

  22. Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities.

The L.A. County order does not apply to Healthcare Operations or Essential Infrastructure, as defined in the order.

The L.A. County order applies to all cities in Los Angeles County except for Pasadena and Long Beach.

A copy of the L.A. County order can be found here.

L.A. City Order: “Safer At Home”

The City of Los Angeles order is significantly more restrictive than the County order.

The City order provides that all City residents must remain in their homes, save for the following exceptions:

  1. To visit a healthcare or veterinary professional.

  2. To exercise (g., walking, hiking, running, cycling, using scooters) on the condition that people remain 6 feet away from each other, or travel in a vehicle with household members to go to a place to walk, hike, run or ride a bike.

  3. To obtain medical supplies.

  4. To buy groceries.

  5. To care for a family member, a friend, or a pet in another household.

  6. To return to a home outside Los Angeles.

  7. To travel to a home outside Los Angeles.

  8. Comply with a court or law enforcement order.

  9. Legally mandated government purposes.

  10. To conduct business operations and activities that are exempted (listed below).

When engaging in these activities, City residents should follow infectious disease precautions including frequently washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding handshakes, staying six feet away from others and cleaning high-touch surfaces.

All first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and others working for emergency services providers, and homeless people, are exempt from the order.

The City order requires all businesses within the City of L.A. to cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers at a workplace, save for the exceptions listed below.  Businesses that can function by telecommuting or work from home arrangements may continue to operate.

Notably, the lists of essential businesses in the County and City orders are very similar but with certain differences.  For example, the City order expressly allows bicycle repair shops and insurance companies to remain open while the County order does not.  By contrast, the County order expressly allows car dealerships and personal grooming services to remain open but the City order does not.  Here is a full list of the businesses the City order allows to remain open:

  1. All healthcare operations (g., hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical and scientific research, laboratories, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, veterinary care providers, mental health providers, physical therapists and chiropractors, cannabis dispensaries, or any related services, manufacturers and suppliers).

  2. Grocery and convenience stores, and stores that sell food and cleaning and personal care products, including certified farmers’ markets, food banks and food and produce stands.

  3. Food cultivation, such as farming, fishing and livestock.

  4. Organizations and businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, including gang prevention and intervention, domestic violence and homeless services agencies.

  5. Newspapers, television, radio, magazine, podcast, and other media services.

  6. Gas service stations, auto supply, mobile auto repair operations, auto repair shops, bicycle repair shops, and related facilities.

  7. Banks, credit unions, financial institutions, and insurance companies.

  8. Hardware and building supply stores, and nurseries.

  9. Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, heating, ventilation and air conditioning installers, carpenters, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel and other service providers who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation to properties and other essential activities discussed in this subsection.

  10. Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes.

  11. Educational institutions (including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities) for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible.

  12. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers.

  13. Restaurants can be open only for pickup or delivery of food; dine-in eating is banned. Businesses must establish measures to keep patrons six feet away from each other.

  14. Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home.

  15. Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support, services or supplies necessary to operate, including utility companies. Strict social distancing must be maintained.

  16. Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, beverages, or goods directly to residences or businesses.

  17. Airlines, taxis and private transportation companies providing services necessary for daily living or purposes authorized by the order.

  18. Home-based care for disabled persons, seniors, adults, or children.

  19. Residential facilities and shelters for disabled persons, seniors, adults, and children.

  20. Professional services (g., legal and accounting services) when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and permitting inspection, construction, transfer, and recording of ownership of housing.

  21. Childcare facilities that enable employees exempt from the order to work as permitted, with certain conditions.

  22. Hotels, motels, shared rental units, and similar facilities.

  23. Military or defense contractors and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers.

Despite the requirement that City residents remain home, the order allows people to go to work on Friday, March 20, 2020 to gather their belongings.

A copy of the L.A. City order can be found here.

Copyright © 2020, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 80
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About this Author

Associate

Melissa Smith is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles office.

Education:

  • J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, 2011, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif

  • B.A., St. Lawrence University, 2008, magna cum laude

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