Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Search SCCGOV Main Portal

Businesses and Workplaces

Last content update: 10/19/2020

​​​​​​

On August 28th, 2020, the State released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”), which created a tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions that all counties in California must follow. Santa Clara County is currently in the Orange Risk Tier (Tier Three) and will stay there until the State moves Santa Clara County forward into Tier Four (Yellow) or back into Tier One (Purple) or Tier Two (Red). The most restrictive rules apply to Tier One (Purple), and the least restrictive rules apply to Tier Four (Yellow).

As long as Santa Clara County is in the Orange Risk Tier (Tier Three), all Tier Three restrictions will apply. As always, Santa Clara County residents and businesses must follow both the State and County Health Officer Orders, and where there is a conflict between the two, the stricter Order must be followed.

Tier Three restrictions are different from Tier Two restrictions (which were previously in place) in the following ways:

  • Indoor pools may now open
  • Indoor movie theaters may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor worship services are now allowed, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor dining operations and wineries may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Bars, brewpubs, and breweries may now operate outdoors
  • Some family entertainment centers may now operate indoors, but only those facilities used for naturally distanced activities (such as bowling alleys and climbing walls). These facilities must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Cardrooms may now operate indoors, but they must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Indoor shopping malls no longer have a capacity limitation, but common areas must remain closed. Note that the Mandatory Directive for Dining does not allow food courts in shopping malls to open any indoor dining areas
  • Retail businesses and Libraries no longer have a capacity limitation
  • Gyms and fitness centers may increase their capacity limit to 25% of normal. This also applies also to indoor sports and dance facilities (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, fencing, and Zumba facilities)
  • Museums and zoos may increase their capacity limit to 50% of normal

Note: All businesses must ensure that everyone visiting their facility is able to maintain at least 6-foot social distance from everyone not in their household.  All businesses are responsible for enforcing this requirement at their facilities.

See the following documents for further information on the Revised Order.

The following Mandatory County Health Officer Directives have been rescinded and are no longer in effect:

​​​​​​​

 

What Does the October 5 Order Mean for Businesses?

The Revised Risk Reduction Officer, issued October 5, 2020, brings the County more closely in line with the State by loosening some restrictions, but it still imposes strict across-the-board risk reduction measures on activities and businesses. Most businesses are now allowed to open, but they must follow specific rules designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and keep both workers and customers safe.

Back to Top ▲


Requirements for Operating

Requirements for All Businesses (PDF) New

Under the State and County Health Officers’ Orders, businesses that are allowed to be open must comply with significant requirements designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Here are the requirements that apply to all businesses in the community:

Social Distancing: All businesses must require employees and customers to wear face coverings in accordance with State face covering requirements, maintain at least 6 feet from others at all times, and provide hand washing/sanitizing supplies to customers and staff.

Capacity limitations:Some businesses are subject to COVID-19-related capacity limitations and must limit the number of people inside their facilities to a certain percentage of their usual maximum occupancy. Visit www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity​ to learn whether your business is subject to specific COVID-19-related capacity limitations.

Telework: All workers who can do their jobs from home are required to work remotely.

Industry-Specific Directives: Businesses must follow any industry-specific directives from the Health Officer as well as any industry-specific guidance from the State.

Reporting COVID-19 Cases to Public Health: Businesses must alert the Public Health Department if workers test positive for COVID-19, and ensure workers alert their employers if they were at work while infectious.

Submit a NEW Social Distancing Protocol to the County: All businesses must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, which will be publicly available through the County’s website, within 14 days of the effective date of the October 5 Order. Businesses must submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol even if they previously submitted an original Social Distancing Protocol under the July 2 Health Officer Order.

What Does the Revised Social Distancing Protocol Require?

  • Complete and submit online at www.COVID19Prepared.org, and sign under penalty of perjury.
  • Post signs to keep workers and customers informed of social distancing, face covering, and hygiene requirements.
  • Train workers on how to be safe at work.
  • Direct sick workers to stay home, and screen all workers for symptoms.
  • Make soap and water or hand sanitizer available for cleaning hands.
  • Thoroughly and regularly clean facilities.
  • Maintain social distancing and comply with all capacity restrictions.
  • Have a plan if someone tests positive for COVID-19.

REMEMBER: In addition to the County Health Officer Order, businesses must comply with the State’s Stay-at-Home Order. The more restrictive Order applies. Business owners that are allowed to open under the County Order should confirm that they are also allowed to open under the State Order.

 

Mandatory Health Officer Directives
​​​​​

On August 28th, 2020, the State released its Blueprint for a Safer Economy (“Blueprint”), which created a tiered system of COVID-19 restrictions that all counties in California must follow. Santa Clara County is currently in the Orange Risk Tier (Tier Three) and will stay there until the State moves Santa Clara County forward into Tier Four (Yellow) or back into Tier One (Purple) or Tier Two (Red). The most restrictive rules apply to Tier One (Purple), and the least restrictive rules apply to Tier Four (Yellow).

As long as Santa Clara County is in the Orange Risk Tier (Tier Three), all Tier Three restrictions will apply. As always, Santa Clara County residents and businesses must follow both the State and County Health Officer Orders, and where there is a conflict between the two, the stricter Order must be followed.

Tier Three restrictions are different from Tier Two restrictions (which were previously in place) in the following ways:

  • Indoor pools may now open
  • Indoor movie theaters may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor worship services are now allowed, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Indoor dining operations and wineries may now operate, but they must limit their capacity to the lesser of 25% of normal capacity or 100 people
  • Bars, brewpubs, and breweries may now operate outdoors
  • Some family entertainment centers may now operate indoors, but only those facilities used for naturally distanced activities (such as bowling alleys and climbing walls). These facilities must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Cardrooms may now operate indoors, but they must limit their capacity to 25% of normal
  • Indoor shopping malls no longer have a capacity limitation, but common areas must remain closed. Note that the Mandatory Directive for Dining does not allow food courts in shopping malls to open any indoor dining areas
  • Retail businesses and Libraries no longer have a capacity limitation
  • Gyms and fitness centers may increase their capacity limit to 25% of normal. This also applies also to indoor sports and dance facilities (e.g., gymnastics, martial arts, fencing, and Zumba facilities)
  • Museums and zoos may increase their capacity limit to 50% of normal

Note: All businesses must ensure that everyone visiting their facility is able to maintain at least 6-foot social distance from everyone not in their household.  All businesses are responsible for enforcing this requirement at their facilities.

See the following documents for further information on the Revised Order.

The following Mandatory County Health Officer Directives have been rescinded and are no longer in effect:

​​​​​​​

All business sectors and activities must comply with the Health Officer’s Order. For business sectors and activities, the Health Officer is issuing Mandatory Directives that list more specific requirements, including:

All Businesses Must Maximize Remote Work

Businesses that are allowed to operate facilities in the County must maximize remote work. All employees who can work from home must do so. The only employees who can go to work are those who cannot perform their job duties from home and: (1) must work onsite to carry out an essential business function or an essential governmental function; (2) must work onsite to operate an allowable outdoor business or additional business; or (3) are needed to maintain the minimum basic operations described in the Order for components of the business that are not allowed to fully resume operations. If an employee must come into work for some job functions, but can perform other job functions remotely, that employee must work from home to carry out the job functions that can be performed remotely.

Maximize Outdoor Operations 

While not mandatory, the Health Officer strongly recommends that all businesses move as many operations outdoors as possible. Outdoor activities present a much lower risk of COVID-19 transmission because there is better airflow and usually more room to spread out outdoors. ​

 

Back to Top ▲

Prepare a Revised Social Distancing Protocol – NEW

COVID-19 Prepared Checkmark Sign

Every business with a facility in the County used by workers or the public must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities on the County’s website at www.COVID19Prepared.org. The Revised Social Distancing Protocol must be submitted and signed electronically through the County’s website – you cannot sign using pen and paper. Businesses that operate from a facility must post an updated COVID-19 Prepared sign and Visitor Information summary sheet, which are included in the Revised Social Distancing Protocol. Businesses that provide services at several facilities that they do not own (like cleaning services) must distribute the Protocol to the owners or operators of each location they serve. All businesses must distribute the Protocol to their workers.

All businesses must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, which will be publicly available through the County’s website, within 14 days of the effective date of the October 5 Order. Businesses must submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol even if they previously submitted an original Social Distancing Protocol under the July 2 Health Officer Order.  Please visit www.COVID19Prepared.org for detailed instructions on how to prepare, submit, and implement your Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

 

Back to Top ▲

Download and Post Signage

You can download flyers and posters about the Public Health Order to inform employees and customers about preventing the spread of COVID-19. Please see here.

three posters 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides print resources with information about COVID-19. Please see here.


Back to Top ▲

Guidance for Safe Operation

Businesses in Santa Clara County are responsible for taking steps to protect the health of their workers and customers by minimizing close contact between people and maintaining a clean and sanitary work environment. In addition to the requirements named in the Order and explained on the Requirements for Operating webpage, the County Health Officer strongly recommends adoption of the following practices for safe operation.

Under the Health Officer Order, employers are legally required to submit information about confirmed positive case(s) and close contacts within four hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). Follow instructions as outlined in the “What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19” section. This information is also available as a downloadable PDF.

What happens to case information after it is submitted to the County:

The Public Health Department uses reported case and contact information to track COVID-19 with the County and to reach out to identified close contacts to ensure they are following quarantine and testing recommendations. In addition, the Public Health Department reviews data to detect clusters at worksites in the County to determine if additional testing and/or Public Health Department support is appropriate. Timely and complete reporting of cases and close contacts is legally required and is essential to protecting you, your workers, and the public from COVID-19.

What to Do if There is a Suspected COVID-19 Case at the Worksite

Step 1: Exclude the Worker from the Worksite

Ensure that workers with COVID-19 symptoms do not come to the worksite or are sent home immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms while at the worksite.

If, upon arrival at the worksite or at any time during the workday, a worker appears to have any of the following symptoms, the worker should be immediately separated from others and sent home:

  • Fever (subjective or measured)
  • persistent cough;
  • shortness of breath;
  • chills;
  • sore throat;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • unusual and significant tiredness, muscle or body aches, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste or smell.

A worker who is working remotely should report experiencing any of these symptoms to his or her supervisor immediately if the worker has been at the worksite within 48 hours of first experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

You may assess and discuss with the worker whether remote work is appropriate while he or she is at home. 

Employees are no longer considered contagious if they meet the criteria detailed in this Return to Work letter​. The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note or a negative test to return to work as long as the criteria detailed are met.


Step 2: Instruct the worker to get tested for COVID-19

Instruct the worker to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible through the worker’s healthcare provider and to seek medical advice. Symptomatic individuals should not seek testing at a County pop-up testing site.

  • If the worker tests negative for COVID-19, the worker should remain at home until at least 24 hours after resolution of fever (if any) and improvement in other symptoms. 

If the worker tests positive for COVID-19, the worker must notify his or her supervisor immediately. Follow the instructions in the downloadable PDF, which provides step-by-step guidance for “What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19.” Note that employers are legally required to report positive cases to the County Public Health Department at www.sccsafeworkplace.org within 4 hours of learning of the case.

 

Back to Top ▲

What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19

(PDF): | English | Spanish | Vietnamese​ | Chinese |

This step-by-step protocol provides guidance to employers when one or more people at the workplace tests positive for COVID-19. This protocol applies to employees as well as volunteers, contractors, or other people who work at the facility. In addition to this protocol, employers must comply with all applicable state and federal laws and any collective bargaining obligations.

When to Use this Protocol

If the person diagnosed with COVID-19 ever had symptoms, use this protocol if they were symptomatic while at work or developed symptoms within 48 hours of being at work.

If the person diagnosed with COVID-19 never had symptoms, use this protocol if they tested positive within 48 hours of being at work.

 

Step 1: Provide instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker

Work Exclusion & Isolation Period
The worker should be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate for 10 days from the date their symptoms began AND 24 hours with no fever AND any other symptoms have improved. The individual may return to the worksite after all of these criteria are met (10/1 rule).

If they never had any COVID-19 symptoms, they should isolate for 10 days from the date their positive test was done.

Return to Work Letter    (PDF) :  | English | Spanish | Vietnamese​ | Chinese | Tagalog​ |

Employees are no longer considered contagious if they meet the criteria detailed in this Return to Work letter​​. The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note or a negative test to return to work as long as the criteria detailed are met.


Step 2: Identify all close contacts to the COVID-19-positive worker

If an employer learns that an employee has tested positive, the employer should try to determine which, if any, employees had close contact with the positive employee. A close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of the person who tested positive for at least 15 minutes.

Maintain Confidentiality
Employers should keep employees’ medical information confidential in accordance with federal and state laws.  Do not disclose the identity of the COVID-19 positive worker in your effort to identify close contacts. Please consult with your attorney if you have any questions about applicable employment or privacy laws. 

Identify Close Contacts During the Exposure Period

The employer should investigate and document the employee’s schedule and work location to determine: 1) the day their symptoms began (if applicable); 2) the date of their first positive test; and 3) the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was present at the workplace.

This information should then be used by the employer to identify all individuals who may have had close contact with the confirmed-positive employee during the exposure period. 

The exposure period is defined as:

  • Start: 2 days before the person had symptoms (or 2 days before date of first positive test for employees who are asymptomatic)
  • End: last day the positive person was at work

Complete the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Form 

The employer should gather the following information for all people who have been identified as close contacts (to be provided to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department), including any vendors/suppliers, visitors, or others who had close contact with the employee at the worksite.

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Language spoken (if not fluent in English)

Employers may also consider instituting a policy informing employees that if they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they will be requested to provide a list of other employees with whom they had close contact during the exposure period.

 

Step 3: Communicate with All Employees

Work Exclusion, Quarantine & Testing Recommendations for Close Contacts

Anyone who had close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19 during the exposure period (defined above) should not be allowed at the worksite and should stay at home for 14 days, starting the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work.

Provide the New COVID-19 Close Contact Advisory (English​ | Chinese | Spanish |Vietnamese | Tagalog​​) to all close contacts identified.​

All close contacts should be tested around 7 days after they last had contact with the COVID-19 case. If the worker does not have a healthcare provider, COVID-19 testing locations can be found on our website. Even if the test is negative, close contacts should remain in quarantine for the full 14 days. If the close contact was tested before 7 days from their last contact with the case, they should get tested again towards the end of their quarantine period to see if their infection status has changed. Test results, positive or negative, should be shared with the employer.

If a worker who is a close contact to a case cannot (or refuses to) get tested, they should still remain in quarantine for a full 14 days before returning to work.

If you are in one of the following sectors (Fire Departments; Law Enforcement and Community Corrections; 9-1-1 Dispatch; Healthcare Delivery) and compliance with the Public Health Department’s isolation and quarantine guidance would compromise your continuity of service, you should contact the Public Health Department for additional guidance.

General Advisory & Symptom Monitoring for All Other Employees
All others present at the workplace, but NOT identified as close contacts, should be advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work. They may return to work, but if they develop symptoms, they should stay home (or if at work, go home immediately) and contact their health care provider to get testing. Everyone at the worksite should ensure they are following the business’s Social Distancing Protocol. 

If the workplace is a “High-Risk Setting,” one where workers are at a high risk for exposure to COVID-19 due to frequent face-to-face interaction with members of the public and inability to maintain physical distancing at work, workers should get tested at least every 30 days. These “High-Risk Setting” workers include, but are not limited to, first responders, pharmacy employees, food service workers, delivery workers, public transportation operators, and grocery store clerks. 

If desired, provide the COVID-19 General Exposure Advisory​ (English​ | Chinese | Spanish |Vietnamese​​​) to all employees who were NOT identified as close contacts.

 

Step 4: Report Case(s) to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department


If a positive case is identified at your worksite, complete the worksite case and contact reporting form on the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal. Under the Health Officer Order, reports must, as a matter of law, be made within four hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status.  You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report.

 

Step 5: Report Any Hospitalizations or Deaths to the Local Cal/OSHA District Office

Any serious injury, illness, or death occurring in any place of employment or in connection with any employment must be reported by the employer to the local Cal/OSHA district office immediately. For COVID-19, this includes hospitalizations and deaths among employees, even if work-relatedness is uncertain.

 

Step 6: Disinfection Recommendations After a Confirmed COVID-19 Case at the Workplace

Until cleaning and disinfection are completed, close off areas visited by the ill person(s) if the person visited those areas within the last 48 hours. If safe, open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Using an EPA-certified cleaning agent, clean and disinfect all areas used by the ill person(s), including offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment (like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines), focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch areas throughout the day, following CDC guidelines. Clean visibly dirty surfaces and objects using soap and water prior to disinfection. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant product, and follow the instructions on the label for proper use, additional PPE needs, and any other special considerations when using the product.

 

Step 7: Preventing Workplace COVID-19 Transmission

Strictly Enforce Face Covering Use

Face coverings are now mandated in the State of California (CDPH, 2020). All persons must be instructed to wear their face covering at all times while at the workplace or performing work off-site, especially when interacting with or in a space visited by members of the public, working in a space where food is prepared or packaged, working in or walking through common areas, or in an enclosed area with others and where it is not possible to maintain 6-foot social distancing. 

Face coverings are not required for workers while eating or drinking, for workers with a medical condition that prevents wearing a face covering, for communication by or with a person who is hearing impaired, or when the face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.

As Appropriate, Restructure the Workplace to Better Support Social Distancing Measures

Reconfigure, restrict, or close common areas to maintain social distancing. Minimum required social distancing measures are identified in the Social Distancing Protocol. Additional measures specific to other industries or activities are included in Mandatory Directives issued by the Health Officer. 

Some basic, preliminary social distancing measures include the following:

  • Maximize remote work, based on business functions. Under the Order, businesses must require all workers to work from home if they are able to perform their employer-assigned work duties from home. Certain businesses are required to suspend all on-site operations other than minimum basic operations (like securing the worksite and enabling remote work).
  • For those who must remain at the workplace, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from everyone outside your household.
  • Limit the number of workers allowed inside your facility at the same time to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone outside their household at all times.  Additional capacity limitations may apply depending on your business sector – please see www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity​ for more information.Desks and workspaces should be spaced at least six feet apart and arranged facing the same direction rather than facing each other.
  • Desks and workspaces should be spaced at least six feet apart and arranged facing the same direction rather than facing each other.
  • Any shared desk/work areas should be sanitized between each shift.
  • Use of common areas (such as conference rooms, cafeterias, and break rooms) should be minimized and avoided. Breaks should be taken outside whenever possible, and individuals should be encouraged to eat meals outside or at their desks.
  • Instead, individuals should be encouraged to eat meals at their desks and to join meetings virtually whenever possible.
  • If such common areas are used, place additional limitations on the number of workers in enclosed areas to ensure at least six feet of separation between everyone in the area.
  • Stagger personnel breaks, in compliance with wage and hour regulations, to maintain adequate social distancing.
  • Eliminate all non-essential in-person meetings and opt for virtual meetings whenever possible; for meetings that must be in-person, arrange to ensure adequate social distancing.

Actively Encourage Adherence to Hygiene Measures

Actively encourage all individuals to increase hygiene measures (hand washing, avoiding contact with eyes/nose/mouth, covering coughs and sneezes), and provide frequent breaks for hand washing. Provide tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes that can be easily accessed throughout the facility. Employers must ensure that hand sanitizer dispensers and handwashing facilities are always operational and stocked. 

Print out and post educational materials throughout the workplace. Printable materials are available at: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/learn-what-to-do-flyers.aspx

Implement Routine Cleaning Measures

Clean

  • See the CDC guidance “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility” for specific guidance in cleaning and disinfecting indoor and outdoor areas.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • All workers must wash hands regularly and be provided with frequent handwashing breaks.

Disinfect

  • Employers should ensure that routine disinfection is conducted using one of the following:
    • EPA-registered household disinfectant, per manufacturer’s recommendations;
    • Alcohol solution with at least 60% alcohol; or
    • Diluted household bleach solutions (if appropriate for the surface)
  • Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch items (door handles, handrails, light switches, telephones, keyboards, etc.) throughout the day.

Additional Recommendations

  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.

Ensure Strict Adherence to Social Distancing Protocol and Industry-Specific Directives

All businesses are required to complete and implement a Social Distancing Protocol and submit it to the County using the online form. Additional measures specific to other industries or activities are included in Mandatory Directives issued by the Health Officer.

Periodically revisit your facilities’ Protocol to determine whether any measures should be updated to enhance workplace safety. Ensure that all personnel are properly trained on the Protocol and that the Protocol measures are being strictly implemented and followed.

 

Back to Top ▲

Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems (COVID-19)  NEW (PDF)

Why is it Important to Ventilate Indoor Spaces?

Shared indoor spaces significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  Current scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 is mainly spread through large respiratory droplets as well as tiny exhaled particles called aerosols, which can linger in indoor spaces for long periods of time, particularly if the spaces are enclosed and poorly ventilated.  The risk of COVID-19 transmission also increases significantly when people remove their face coverings (including when eating or drinking), and it increases with every person from a separate household who shares the same indoor area.

It is always safest to avoid gathering with individuals outside one’s household.  And locating activities outdoors—where wind and sunlight can disperse particles and inactivate the virus—is safer than indoors, particularly if the activity requires the removal of face coverings.

If activities must take place in shared indoor spaces, managing the indoor air won’t eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but it can significantly reduce it, particularly when combined with other safety precautions (like use of face coverings, limits on the number of people in the space, and vigilant social distancing).  As stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its scientific brief on airborne transmission of coronavirus, “ventilation and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces are especially relevant for enclosed spaces, where circumstances can increase the concentration of suspended small droplets and particles carrying infectious virus.”

In general, the more people you have in an indoor environment, the greater the need for increasing the circulation of fresh, outdoor air to dilute airborne particles.  Provide fresh air to the areas of your buildings with the highest number of occupants.  In areas where you are unable to increase outdoor air, reduce the number of people even further, space people greater than six feet apart, and take other measures to improve ventilation and air filtration. 

Who Should Follow This Guidance?

This guidance is intended to assist a wide variety of businesses, offices, schools, restaurants, faith-based organizations, and other non-healthcare industries in identifying general steps to improve ventilation in indoor spaces and reduce the risk of transmission.  Healthcare facilities should follow their Infection Prevention and Control Plan and other healthcare-specific requirements.  

What Steps Should My Facility Take to Improve Ventilation and Air Filtration?

Take the following steps to improve the quality of indoor air in your facility and reduce the potential for long-range, airborne coronavirus transmission:

  1. Require Face Covering Use – Face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in an indoor environment by as much as 50%. Face coverings must be worn by almost everyone most of the time when in shared indoor spaces.  Good ventilation and air filtration is especially important for indoor facilities like restaurants, where face coverings must be temporarily removed to engage in activities like eating and drinking.  Note that face shields have not been shown to protect against aerosols and are not a substitute for face coverings.  Face shields may be used in addition to face coverings, but not in lieu of them.
  1. Increase Outdoor Air Exchange – Increasing outdoor air circulation is one of the simplest ways to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, so long as doing so doesn’t pose a greater safety or health risk to anybody using the facility.
    • Open doors and windows to increase fresh air circulation when environmental, building, and safety conditions allow. Consider modifications to your facility to make opening doors and windows safe and feasible: like replacing non-opening windows with ones that easily open or installing mesh screens or grates.  If your building also has a mechanical ventilation system, be sure to evaluate the impact of open windows/doors in accordance with step #3 below.
    • Consider using portable fans to maximize the effectiveness of open windows and doors. However, if doing so, be careful to position fans to point away from occupants and to avoid blowing air from one person to another (which may spread the virus).  Instead, position fans near doors and windows and use them to draw or blow air from the inside of the facility to the outside, instead of blowing air inside.  Create an airflow plan to maximize the movement of indoor air to the outside.
  1. Upgrade Existing Mechanical Ventilation System - If your facility has an existing Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, have it evaluated by an experienced HVAC professional to make sure it is functioning properly and to consider feasible and appropriate upgrades.  Upgrades may increase circulation of outside air and also remove presence of aerosols through filtration.  Consider upgrading the efficiency of your system’s mechanical filter to the highest efficiency compatible with the air handling system and currently installed filter rack; ideally, filter efficiency should be MERV 13 or greater.  Be sure to regularly inspect air handling systems and filters to ensure they are properly operating, and filters are appropriately installed, serviced and within service life.  Consider adopting these additional ventilation and air filtration protocols as appropriate to your system:
    • Increase the percentage of outdoor air through the HVAC system, readjusting or overriding recirculation (“economizer”) dampers.
    • Try to keep the humidity between 40% and 60%.
    • Run air handling systems for longer hours, including before and after the space is occupied.
    • Seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
    • Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy, and maintain systems that increase fresh air supply.
    • Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
    • Ensure ongoing, routine maintenance of the HVAC system in all areas, but especially smaller rooms with exhaust fans, such as restrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
    • Monitor the effectiveness of the system by measuring ventilation directly, when possible. Building owners/operators can review specific components such as air flow rates (outdoor air vs. recirculated air) and the pressure differences between higher risk areas (e.g., bathrooms and dining areas) and other areas.
    For further detail, see the October 5, 2020 Guidance for Re-Opening Buildings by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
  1. Install Portable Air Cleaners – A variety of portable air cleaners, commonly called HEPA filters, can be purchased and used in indoor spaces to increase the removal of small airborne particles. Consider using these filters where there is no or poor outdoor ventilation, no HVAC system, or when upgrades to the HVAC system are not feasible.  These come with a range of sizes, features and prices.  It is recommended to purchase units which are certified for ozone emissions and electrical safety by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and to avoid ozone-producing air cleaners.  Also ensure the unit is appropriately sized for the room it is used in, using methods such as the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR).
  1. Additional Considerations
    • Locate indoor activities in large rooms that have high ceilings, creating more space for exhaled particles to disperse. Control the number of people entering the room.
    • Set ceiling fans to pull air upward, rather than pushing it downward toward room occupants.
    • Consider, where appropriate, installing appropriately designed and deployed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to deactivate airborne virus particles.
    • Note that ventilation and air filtration measures also apply to enclosed tents set up for events or businesses. Open tent sides as much as possible to increase outdoor air exchange, and note that tents with two or more closed sides qualify as indoor spaces under the County’s Health Officer Order.

Consult an HVAC Professional

The information in this guidance is for general audiences who may have questions about air quality in buildings and mitigation measures to reduce risk of airborne coronavirus transmission.  Many buildings have complex HVAC systems, and it is important to work with an HVAC professional to evaluate your building’s ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning system and consider the upgrades and improvements that are appropriate to your system and space.

Additional Resources:

United States Centers for Disease Control:

Employer Information for Office Buildings

Operating schools during COVID-19: CDC's Considerations

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions and Resources for Air Resource Advisors and Other Environmental Health Professionals

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):

ASHRAE Resources Available to Address COVID-19 Concerns

Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

ASHRAE Reopening Schools and Universities C19 Guidance

ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force: Building Readiness

United States Environmental Protection Agency:

Ventilation and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Indoor Air in Homes and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Science and Technical Resources related to Indoor Air and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home

World Health Organization:

Q&A: Ventilation and air conditioning in public spaces and buildings and COVID-19

 

Back to Top ▲

Additional State and Federal Guidance

​The following government agencies have developed guidance to help with planning efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.​

State of California

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health - Cal OSHA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Back to Top ▲

Assistance and Resources

Assistance and resources for funding and support for business that are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.​

 

Financing and Resources for Small Businesses

  • On June 15, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened its application portal for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), providing vital funding for businesses that may have missed the original application period. The application and more information is available on the SBA website.
  • The Northern California Small Business Development Center can help small businesses navigate resources and answer business questions.
  • Learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Further information on the Paycheck Protection Program is available from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • California IBank has low-interest and state-guaranteed business loans and microloans for small business borrowers who have been impacted by regional disasters and who need term loans or lines of credit for working capital.
  • The California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) for Small Business encourages banks and other financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that have difficulty obtaining financing. If you own a small business and need a loan for start-up, expansion, or working capital, you may receive more favorable loan terms from a lender if your loan is enrolled in the CalCAP Loan Loss Reserve Program. A list of participating lending institutions is available here.
  • The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) offers resource information on financial and technical assistance for small businesses throughout California.
  • Employee Retention Credit: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship created this Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act to help small business owners navigate the resources introduced by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • Employers who have difficulty locating and purchasing non-medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their workers may utilize Safely Making California, a partnership between the State, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Autodesk. Safely Making California helps connect employers to manufacturers of non-medical grade PPE.
  • A partnership between the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA), Autodesk, and the State of California has created the "Safely Making California” Marketplace to help fill a critical gap for all sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will connect CMTA member manufacturers and other manufacturers to employers who have the need to purchase non-medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

 

Sales and Use Tax Liability (State of California) - Extensions and Relief for Small Business Taxpayers

Effective April 2, 2020, small business taxpayers (those with less than $5 million in taxable annual sales) can take advantage of a 12-month, interest-free payment plan for up to $50,000 of sales and use tax liability. See here for details. Payment plan requests can be made through the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s online services system. Questions about this program may be directed to the Department of Tax and Fee Administration​ (1-800-400-7115; California Relay Service: 711).​

 

Workforce Resources

  • The Labor & Workforce Development Agency has compiled a centralized source of information on topics such as paid sick leave, disability and unemployment insurance, workplace health and safety guidance, and employer assistance. Use the guidance on their website to determine what is best for you, your family, and your workplace.
  • The California Labor Commissioner’s Office (en español) lists answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding employee leave options, compensation, and salary.
  • The Employment Development Department (EDD) (en español) provides a variety of resources for employers who anticipate a reduction of work hours, or potential closure or layoffs as a result of COVID-19. Employers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19 may also request up to a 60-day extension from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center at (888) 745-3886 (TTY: 1-800-547-9565).
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance regarding ADA compliance, medical exams, confidential medical information, anti-discrimination laws, and other employment matters related to COVID-19.  Businesses should work with legal counsel to address employment law questions as the County cannot provide legal advice regarding employment matters related to COVID-19 in the workplace. 

 

Employees of Affected Businesses/Unemployment Claims

  • The Employment Development Department (en español) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19in California:
  • Sick or Quarantined: If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to non-work-related illnesses.
  • Caregiving: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for ill or quarantined family members with COVID-19, you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member.
  • Reduced Work Hours: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own.
  • A is a private initiative of companies and foundations that serves California workers displaced by COVID-19. OnwardCA provides essential life services (such as money, groceries, or childcare), job training, and job matching.
  • The Workers page on the State’s COVID-19 website lists information on unemployment insurance, help for self-employed workers and independent contractors, and more.
  • This chart created by the State’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency lists the benefits available to workers affected by COVID-19.

 

Back to Top ▲

Guidance for Workers

For people allowed to perform work outside their homes during the shelter in place order, we offer the following tips on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) for you and your family.

 

When Going to Work:

Wearing gloves is not a substitute for hand washing. A pair of green and blue gloves

  • Riding alone in a private vehicle is the safest way to travel.
  • We know this is not possible for everyone. If you go to work with others in the same car, wear a face covering over your mouth and nose (such as a bandana, scarf, or handmade fabric covering). Keep the car windows open whenever possible.
  • If you go to work on public transportation, you must wear a face covering while waiting for and riding the bus or train. For more guidance on public transportation requirement, see VTA or Caltrain​.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • If possible, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use after touching surfaces such as ticket machines, handrails, and doors.

 

When at Work:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get to work and as often as possible during your shift. Wash for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing facilities are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose while at work (such as a bandana, scarf, or handmade fabric covering). This is required.
  • Help ensure your workplace is following the Social Distancing Protocol and other requirements. If your employer is not complying with business requirements to operate or the Social Distancing Protocol, call the County of Santa Clara Office of Labor Standards Enforcement at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccCOVIDconcerns.org to report any deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements.

 

When You Get Home from Work:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer as soon as you get home.
  • Create a space near the front door or entrance to your home to place your work items to avoid contaminating other areas of the house.
  • After washing your hands, clean your phone, keys, and other loose items with disinfectant wipes.
  • Clean any doorknobs or other surfaces that you touched when you entered the home.
  • Place work clothes that need washing directly into the washer or in a separate bag, depending on what makes sense for your laundry situation.
  • Shower and put on clean clothes.
  • Do not hug or touch anyone until after you've washed your hands and showered.

 

At Home:

  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, then throw out the used tissue.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like drinking glasses, eating utensils, and towels with other people.
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces including phones, keyboards, kitchen countertops, toilets, faucets, and doorknobs. Standard cleaning products are effective against COVID-19.

 

Make a Plan in Case You Get Sick:

  • Plan how you will meet your essential needs if you become sick.
  • Keep a supply of non-perishable food, household items, cleaning supplies, and medications on hand so that you can minimize and space out your trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and other locations.
  • Determine who will be responsible for activities such as grocery shopping and other essential activities if you become sick. Is there someone in the home who can help? Is there a family or close friend who can drop off groceries to the door?

 

Employees of Affected Businesses/Unemployment Claims

  • The Employment Development Department (eespañol) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California:
  • Sick or Quarantined: If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to non-work-related illnesses.
  • Caregiving: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for ill or quarantined family members with COVID-19, you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member.
  • Reduced Work Hours: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own.
  • Onward
  • CA​ is a private initiative of companies and foundations that serves California workers displaced by COVID-19. OnwardCA provides essential life services (such as money, groceries, or childcare), job training, and job matching.
  • The Workers page on the State’s COVID-19 website lists for information on unemployment insurance, help for self-employed workers and independent contractors, and more.
  • This chart created by the State’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency lists the benefits available to workers affected by COVID-19.

 

Free Support Services:

  • For housing support for those that are homeless, call the County's Joint Operations Center at 408-278-6420.
  • For those needing support that have been identified as close contact to a positive case or are positive for COVID-19, please call 408-808-7770. Please review all Isolation & Quarantine support services here.
  • For food assistance, call Second Harvest Food Bank at 1-800-984-3663.
  • If you do not have a regular doctor, please call the Primary Care Access Program at 408-556-6605 to speak to a doctor about your symptoms.
  • For information on COVID-19 testing in the County—including who should get tested and where—visit the County Public Health Department website: www.sccgov.org/cv19testing.
  • Remember, getting help for COVID-19 will not reduce your chances of obtaining U.S. residency or citizenship. So please, reach out for help if you need it.
  • To see if you qualify for a program that can cover a portion of your lost wages due to COVID-19 visit: sccfairworkplace.org or call 1-866-870-7725.
  • If your employer is not complying with business requirements to operate or the Social Distancing Protocol, call the County of Santa Clara Office of Labor Standards Enforcement at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccCOVIDconcerns.org to report any deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements.

 

Back to Top ▲

Guidance for Customers

Before you go do not forget to bring your hand sanitizer bottle, two face coverings and a paper bag to store the face coverings

Customers should keep in mind the following guidance while visiting business facilities:

  • Customers must wear face coverings in accordance with State face covering requirements​. Note: Face coverings are not required for very young children under the age of two or for people for whom they are otherwise not medically recommended, or for communication by or with someone who is hearing impaired.
  • Customers must maintain social distancing of at least six feet from employees and other customers whenever possible.
  • Check to make sure the business has posted a COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and a Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet at each public entrance to the facility.
  • Avoid using public seating areas.
Two different groups of people dine at least 6 feet apart while a server wearing a face covering walks to greet them

If a business is not complying with required Social Distancing Protocols, you can report deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements at www.scccovidconcerns.org​.

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about customer safety during the coronavirus outbreak, please see here.

 

What Should Customers See in Every Business? (PDF) New

ALL open businesses have to follow the County Health Officer’s rules to make sure their workers and customers stay as safe as possible from COVID-19. Here’s what you should see at every open business in Santa Clara County:

  1. ALL CUSTOMERS AND WORKERS WEARING FACE COVERINGS
    • Employees must wear face coverings (unless it’s unsafe for them or they’re talking to someone who is hearing-impaired).
    • Customers over age 2 must wear face coverings too, and the business should turn away customers who aren’t wearing them unless the customer has a medical or disability-related reason not to.
  1. EVERYONE KEEPING AT LEAST 6-FOOT DISTANCE
    • A business should never be crowded. Business must limit the number of customers and workers in a facility at any time to make sure everyone can maintain 6 feet of social distance from everyone else.
    • You should also see things like tape on the floor marking 6-foot distances for customers standing in line, and chairs and benches blocked off with tape or signs. Employees shouldn’t be crowding together while they work.
  1. HAND-WASHING OR HAND SANITIZER AVAILABLE FOR CUSTOMERS
    • There is hand sanitizer or soap and water available so customers and the business’s employees can keep their hands clean.
  1. POSTERS EXPLAINING COVID-19 SAFETY RULES
    • At the entrance, you should see the COVID-19 PREPARED sign and Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information sheet, which look like this:
      COVID-19 business signs
    • You should also see posters with information about social distancing, face covering, and health and hygiene requirements like these:
      COVID-19 business posters
    • Violations:  To report a business that you think is violating these or other requirements related to preventing COVID-19, please visit www.scccovidconcerns.org

 

Back to Top ▲

File a Complaint About a Violation

If you see a business or organization that might be violating the Order and endangering the public or its employees, you can report it to the County at www.scccovidconcerns.org​. Workers, volunteers, and other personnel concerned about their employer violating the Order, you can also contact the County Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Advice Line at 1-866-870-7725 to speak with someone directly about their questions and concerns.  Advice Line staff are available to assist community questions and concerns in English, Español, Tiếng Việt, 文 and Tagalog.

The Public Health Order is a legal order issued under the authority of California law. You are required to comply, and it is a crime (a misdemeanor) to not follow the Order. The Enforcement Ordinance for Public Health Orders can be read here. Violations of this Order are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

 

Back to Top ▲

Contact Us

Contact us by email or by phone

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions page for businesses. If you have additional questions not addressed by the FAQs or would like to provide us with feedback, please reach out to us by either filling out the form below or call the COVID-19 Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500, Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm, for any inquires related to your business or workplace.​​​​​​​​​

​​​​​

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Last updated: 10/28/2020 3:33 PM