California Governor Deploys COVID-19 “Strike Force” Over Holiday Weekend to Enforce Workplace Restrictions

By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force 

California increased its efforts to combat COVID-19 over the July 4th holiday weekend by deploying multi-agency strike teams to visit or otherwise make contact with businesses to evaluate and enforce compliance with and/or educate them about the State’s numerous COVID-19 orders, directives, and guidance.

The “Strike Force” includes representatives from at least ten different state agencies.  Approximately 100 agents are from the Alcohol Beverage Control agency and the rest from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the California Highway Patrol, the Board of Barbering & Cosmetology, Consumer Affairs, Food and Agriculture, Labor Commissioner’s Office, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and other state licensing entities.

Ahead of the July 4th holiday, Governor Newsom ordered bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters and more to close in a number of counties on a state watch list.  The state monitoring list is ever changing and represents counties with a need for more support and/or enforcement.

Over the holiday, hundreds of state inspectors fanned out across California to enforce health orders related to Coronavirus.

The State’s actions are likely authorized by Executive Order N-33-20, which generally directs all residents immediately to heed current State public health directives to stay home, Calif EOexcept as needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer “may designate” as critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians.  As for the crackdown, the actions taken are likely be based on recent state guidance documents relating to wearing masks, developing and implementing worksite COVID-19 response plans, etc.

Following the holiday weekend, Governor Newsom emphasized that enforcement efforts will continue to prioritize targeted counties on the monitoring list, known violators, and high-risk workplaces.  Extra attention would be given to industries that should be operating outdoors or should be closed.

This enforcement and education program will initially focus on the state’s counties with the most restrictions and on businesses with repeat offenses or those that defy orders.  The agencies will have a central reporting system for complaints.  California’s Office of Emergency Services is overseeing the program.

All told, already hundreds of thousands of businesses have been contacted by the state’s new COVID-19 Strike Force:

  • The Department of Industrial Relations and Cal/OSHA contacted more than 400,000 businesses by combination of in-person visits, emails and phone calls.
  • The Alcohol Beverage Control agency visited over 5,800 bars and restaurants.
  • The Board of Barbering & Cosmetology contacted over 300 licensees.

That lines up with a Tweet from the Governor’s office yesterday:

CA Gov Tweet

The best way to demonstrate that your workplace has taken a responsible approach to managing the pandemic is to prepare and implement a comprehensive written COVID-19 Exposure Control and Response Plan.  That will organize your approach, and will provide a handy resource to share with both your employees (who are naturally anxious about working during the pandemic) and to any of the various agencies who will want to see what steps you have taken and what policies you have implemented to mitigate potential exposures in the workplace.

Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force will continue to monitor this issue.  Contact us for help with an Exposure Control and Response Plan or any other COVID-19 or Cal/OSHA related issues.

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In the meantime, for additional resources on issues related to COVID-19, please visit Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Resource Page COVID-19 Task Force Pagefor an extensive index of frequently asked questions with our answers about HR, employment law, and OSHA regulatory related developments and guidance, as well as COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting flow charts.  Likewise, subscribe to our Employer Defense Report blog and OSHA Defense Report blog for regular updates about the Labor and Employment Law or OSHA implications of COVID-19 in the workplace.  Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force is monitoring federal, state, and local developments closely and is continuously updating these blogs and the FAQ page with the latest news and resources for employers.

 

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