Legal Update Memo No. 17-2020 – Sonoma County Relaxes Construction Restrictions in New Shelter in Place Order (CCD)
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Sonoma County’s Public Health Officer (“County”) revised the Shelter in Place Order, effective as of May 4, 2020, until it is rescinded or revised (“Order”). While much remains unchanged from the previous orders, the County reduced construction and landscaping restrictions. The County added to the list of Essential Businesses allowed to operate “business provided construction services,” which means construction work on the exterior of any structure, and construction work on the interior of any unoccupied structure. Interior work may be performed on a new or existing structure that no person resides in, or accesses for the duration of the construction activity, except for the construction workers.
The Order allows “lower risk” businesses including construction, landscaping, and related services, to resume operating, as long as two important criteria are met:
- The previous Social Distancing Protocol is posted and given to each employee, per the previous March 31, 2020 Order (See our Legal Update dated April 1, 2020, Memo No. 16-2020(CC); and https://socoemergency.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Appendix-A_05-01-2020extended.pdf.)
- The construction and landscaping work is performed in compliance with the County’s new Construction Field Safety Requirements. (See https://socoemergency.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Appendix-B_05-01-2020.pdf.)
The County’s Construction Field Safety Requirements mandate construction businesses to establish a daily screen protocol for employees; provide a daily tailgate session to review site protocols; designate a Site Safety Rep; regularly clean and sanitize trailers, toilets, and enclosed spaces; establish a cleaning/decontamination entry/exit protocol; establish cleaning/hand washing stations; ensure easy access to parking; and establish a Code of Safety Practices. For more detail, see the County’s Construction Field Safety Requirements attached, and posted online at: https://socoemergency.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Appendix-B_05-01-2020.pdf.
Also allowed to resume work are services needed to support construction activity, which includes, for example, environmental review work, land-surveying, painting, plumbing, electrical, roofing, drywall, fencing, paving, fixture installation, inspection, and similar services.
Please also ensure that your contractors are aware of the new Cal/OSHA Safety and Health Guidance on COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction that was issued on April 27, 2020. (See https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Infection-Prevention-in-Construction.pdf.) Although it does not impose any new legal obligation, it contains information for construction employers on ways to update their required Injury and Illness Prevention Program to address COVID-19 employee training and prevention.
We interpret this Order to mean that construction projects may now move forward whether or not the Local Education Agency (“LEA”) has designated them as “Essential,” provided that contractors comply with all applicable public health protocols.
Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.
The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.
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 The Order can be found online at https://socoemergency.org/order-of-the-health-officer-no-19-09-shelter-in-place-extended/.