Calif. Details Plan For Reopening Restaurants, Retail

By Dave Simpson
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Law360 (May 12, 2020, 10:14 PM EDT) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday released guidelines for dine-in restaurants, malls and other establishments in counties that have cleared the state's coronavirus benchmarks to begin reopening.

The impacted establishments, which also include offices where workers can't telecommute and retail stores, can begin reopening if their county has contained the outbreak through testing, but the businesses will be required to follow a slew of state-implemented guidelines.

The businesses will be required to create workspace-specific plans for dealing with COVID-19, hold employee trainings, provide temperature and symptom screenings for workers, follow social distancing guidelines and enact specific cleaning protocols, Newsom said.

"Businesses may use effective alternative or innovative methods to build upon the guidelines," according to the overall industry guidance released Tuesday.

Establishments that serve alcohol but do not provide dine-in food options must remain closed, the guidelines said. Concert, performance and entertainment venues must also remain closed.

"Dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries, and wineries that provide sit-down meals should follow the restaurant guidance below and should continue to encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible," the guidelines said.

For retail locations, the state said shops must "implement measures to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between workers and customers. This can include use of physical partitions or visual cues (e.g., floor markings, colored tape, or signs to indicate to where workers and/or employees should stand)."

In California and across the country, pandemic-related closure orders have garnered some vocal opponents.

In April, a group of California companies sued state and county officials in federal court, demanding they overturn orders closing nonessential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

California-incorporated companies including restaurants and tourism services argued in their complaint that the coronavirus-related "shelter in place" orders violate their constitutional rights and will drive them out of business. Fearing the havoc that is already crippling the state's economy, the businesses' mass action challenges the orders as an infringement on their civil rights and liberties under the U.S. and state constitutions.

--Editing by Amy Rowe.

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