Cities and counties are requiring social distancing protocols at essential businesses

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As talk has turned in California and the nation towards re-opening the economy, a number of California cities and counties have adopted requirements that all Essential Businesses implement formal Social Distancing Protocols. These requirements are likely to expand across the state and remain in place long after shelter in place orders are lifted.

Every dealer located in a jurisdiction that has adopted such requirements should implement the applicable Protocols. In addition, dealerships located elsewhere in the state should take the time now to adopt additional social distancing measures and prepare formal policies. Doing it now both avoids a last minute effort as the requirements become more common, and will help put staff at ease that the dealership is making every reasonable effort to protect the health and safety of employees and customers.

Local social distancing protocol requirements

Cities or counties in most of the more densely populated parts of the state have adopted formal requirements that Essential Businesses implement Social Distancing Protocols. The specifics of these Protocols vary by jurisdiction, but they tend to all require that businesses implement specific steps, self-certify their compliance, and post a notice regarding steps taken at public entrances.

If your dealership is located in any of the following counties or cities, please take the time to carefully read the applicable Social Distancing Protocol and adopt any applicable measure listed in the Protocol. If you have questions about the applicability of a requirement, please do not hesitate to contact us. We anticipate that these requirements will be in place for several weeks or months and that local authorities will inspect for compliance. Please note all Bay Area Counties have adopted the same Social Distancing Protocol form.

Elements of a strong social distancing policy

For dealership’s located in jurisdictions that have not adopted formal Social Distancing Protocol requirements, they should move forward with a formal policy nonetheless. These requirements are likely to expand across the state, so now is the time to order new supplies, make any physical changes needed, and help employees adapt to new procedures. In addition, putting such a policy in place now is likely to ease the minds of employees, decrease the risk from exposure, and limit future impacts on your business and liability.

Based on guidance from the CDC, California Department of Public Health, and the Social Distancing Protocols adopted in other locales, every strong social distancing policy should include the following elements:

  • Employee Attendance and Screening
    • Employees who can should work from home.
    • Any employee showing symptoms should not attend work.
    • Employees should be screened for symptoms prior to entering the facility.
  • Employee Protections in the Workplace
    • All desks and workspaces separated by six feet where possible.
    • Protective gear, in particular face masks, provided to employees.
    • Frequent cleaning of common and high traffic areas.
    • Hand sanitizer, soap and water, and cleaning supplies available for all employees.
  • Measures to Prevent Congregation and to Maintain Distance
    • Limit the number of people allowed in the facility to maintain social distancing.
    • Mark spots for queuing at six feet of distance.
    • Close waiting areas and playrooms.
  • Implement Contactless Payment Where Possible
  • Increased Sanitation
    • All surfaces in common areas should be sanitized on a regular schedule.
    • All payment portals, pens, and styluses sterilized after use.
    • Vehicle surfaces should be sanitized before the vehicle is returned to the customer.
  • Education and Communication
    • Information about social distancing requirements should be posted throughout the dealership.
    • Employees should be provided with a copy of the social distancing policy.
  • Consider Requiring that Customers Wear Face Masks to Enter the Facility
    • LA County now requires individuals to wear face coverings when in public. This requirement is likely to spread across the state. It is highly recommended that dealerships consider requiring the public to wear a facemask to enter its facility if other forms of social distancing are impractical.

Whether or not your local government requires a written policy, it is wise to adopt one now. A written policy is useful to inform your customers and employees about your practices, but also is an important tool for responding to inspections or in defending your business from liability.

Scali Rasmussen is here to help

If you have questions about what type of social distancing policy to implement, how to communicate it to employees and customers, or whether it complies with local requirements, contact the attorneys at Scali Rasmussen. We can also work with you to draft a written policy that limits potential liability. Your efforts and investment now in following local rules and preventing the spread of the Coronavirus at your dealership will serve your customers and employees well today and help prevent liability in the future.