On March 19, California Governor Newson issued a historic Executive Order N-33-20 (the “Order”)  impacting approximately 40 million California residents.  The Order directs all individuals living in California to stay at home “except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors” or to obtain essential needs, such as food, healthcare, or prescriptions.

To determine which businesses can continue to operate, the Order referenced the “CISA Critical Infrastructure Sectors,” a list of 16 critical sectors.  Due to numerous ambiguities, however, Companies had to quickly determine whether to cease operations in light of the order.

In the evening of March 20, the Governor’s office issued further guidance identifying a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” This new guidance provides more details specific to California regarding businesses that may remain open.  The sectors identified in the new guidance are as follows:

  • Healthcare/Public Health
  • Emergency Services
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community-Based Government Operations and “Essential Functions”
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base

These sectors mostly align with the CISA memorandum and provide separate sector profiles, explaining which essential workers fall within each sector.  Notably, this guidance also identifies certain essential workforces unique to California, including cannabis retailers.

California has also published a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) page, which implies the State Public Health Officer’s list defines the scope of employees who can still travel to work. The FAQs state that if “your business or organization is in the list of exempt sectors, it may still operate,” linking to the Public Health Officer’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.

California’s state order is not the only order that employers must consider when determining if their business can remain open. Employers should also review and consider local county and city-specific orders. For more information regarding recent closures and local orders, the State of California maintains a regularly updated page here.

Jackson Lewis’ Coronavirus Task Force is actively monitoring the developing situation surrounding the complexities of COVID-19. If you need assistance determining whether your business may remain open or require other assistance navigating the complexities of COVID-19 and the workplace, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.