This post was authored by Michael Blacher and Stacy Velloff.

On December 3, in order to slow the unprecedented rise in the rate of increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new Regional Stay Home Order (the “Order”).

The Order will take effect on December 5, 2020 in any region of the state, as designated by the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), where intensive care unit (“ICU”) bed capacity is less than 15%. Should a region’s ICU’s bed capacity drop below that threshold, the Order would become operative, prohibiting non-essential activities by individuals and requiring that most businesses either close entirely or modify their operations to remain open.

Five counties in the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, and San Francisco) and the City of Berkeley have decided not to wait until the ICU bed capacity is less than 15%, and will preemptively institute the Regional Stay Home Order between Sunday, December 6th, and Tuesday, December 8th, depending on the county.  The restrictions will be in place until at least January 4, 2021.

While the Order will have a profound effect on the individuals and businesses in the regions where the Order becomes operative, the Order expressly exempts critical infrastructure sectors, which includes schools and childcare providers.  As a result, when this Order takes effect, it will not affect the current CDPH guidance regarding the operation of schools and childcare facilities.  Schools that have previously reopened for in-person instruction while their county was outside of the Purple Tier for 14 or more days are able to continue in-person instruction consistent with CDPH guidance.  Schools that have resumed in-person pursuant to an elementary school waiver can also continue in-person instruction.  Schools that have not opened for in-person instruction are able to continue providing targeted in-person support services for small student cohorts, as outlined in the CDPH Cohorting Guidance.

Schools must continue to comply with CDPH and applicable local requirements regarding health and safety protocols for students and employees, including, but not limited to, observing face covering requirements, screening protocols, proper social distancing, and hand hygiene protocol.

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore attorneys are available to assist schools that have any questions about the new Order.