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Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update: 3/2/2021

UPDATE: On March 23, 2021, the California Department of Public Health announced that Santa Clara County will be entering the Orange Tier of the State’s the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy effective March 24, 2021. However, Santa Clara County continues to experience COVID-19 transmission, and the danger COVID-19 poses to our community has not subsided. The County Health Officer urges businesses, entities, and residents to continue exercising caution even as certain restrictions are lifted by the State. Just because the State allows certain activities to resume or adopts certain COVID protocols, that does not mean that those activities are safe.

The following documents can be reviewed for further information and updates.

 

The following documents are the Mandatory Health Officer Directives that specify requirements for businesses and activities:

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OVERVIEW

Now that the County Health Officer’s activity-specific Mandatory Directives have been rescinded, does that mean there are no longer any COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County?

No. Even though the activity-specific Mandatory Directives are no longer in effect, other County and State restrictions still apply, and the County continues to enforce those restrictions.

All individuals, businesses, and entities in Santa Clara County must follow the County’s Revised Risk Reduction OrderMandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, and the Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs, as well as all applicable restrictions under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance, and any other State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document (such as the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings).

For more information regarding the State’s requirements, visit the State’s COVID-19 landing page, which links to the State’s Blueprint, Industry Guidance documents, About COVID-19 restrictions page, the California Department of Public Health’s website, and other resources. You may also call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 from Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm; or, you can email the State at EssentialServicesInquiries@cdph.ca.gov.  Please note: The County is aware that the State sometimes responds to questions about State rules by instructing the questioner to ask the County for guidance.  While the County can and does provide guidance on its own public health orders, the County is unable to provide similar guidance on State rules.  The County did not write the State rules and has no more information about the State rules than what is publicly available.  The proper source of assistance in interpreting State rules is the State itself.​

Which tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy are we in right now?

Santa Clara County is currently in the Orange Tier (Tier Three) of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The Orange Tier is the third-most restrictive tier in the Blueprint. The Blueprint and the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance page provide information about the restrictions that apply to different types of businesses in the Orange Tier.

When will Santa Clara County move out of the Orange Tier?

The State will determine when Santa Clara County moves out of the Orange Tier based on local data. The State monitors each county’s data and uses that data to decide when to move counties into a different tier. Movement between tiers is primarily determined by counties’ adjusted case rates, test positivity rates, and vaccination rates.

Which order do I need to follow – the State’s or the County’s?

Both. Every person and business in Santa Clara County must follow the local County Public Health Officer’s orders and the State Public Health Officer’s orders. If the two are different, you must comply with the stricter of the two.

You must also follow any applicable “COVID-19 Industry Guidance” from the State and any other applicable laws or regulations.

What are the main highlights in the County Health Officer’s Revised Risk Reduction Order?

  • Consistency with the State Blueprint: Unless otherwise specified in the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order, businesses are allowed to open to the extent allowed under the State’s Blueprint and the restrictions applicable to the tier to which the County is assigned.
  • Requirements Applicable to All Businesses: The Revised Risk Reduction Order requires that all businesses follow a set of rules to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including:
    • Telework: All businesses must continue to require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers may go in to work only to complete the job duties they can’t complete from home.
    • Social Distancing Protocol requirements: All businesses (and governmental entities) must complete and submit a Social Distancing Protocol for each of their facilities on the County’s website at COVID19Prepared.org. Social Distancing Protocols submitted prior to October 11, 2020 are no longer valid.
    • Positive case reporting: All businesses (and governmental entities) are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours at sccsafeworkplace.org if they learn that any of their workers are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. They must also ensure workers alert them if they test positive and comply with all County contact tracing, case investigation, and outbreak investigation measures.
    • Capacity limitations: All businesses must comply with the County’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations and any applicable industry-specific capacity limitations under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
    • Face coverings: Businesses must ensure that personnel and the public comply with applicable face covering requirements in the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings.

Now that the Health Officer has rescinded the County’s Mandatory Directives, is it safe to gather, go back to work, visit businesses, and travel?

No. Despite recent progress, Santa Clara County continues to experience significant rates of COVID-19 transmission, and the danger COVID-19 poses to our community remains substantial. The Health Officer strongly urges County residents to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by staying home as much as possible. The Health Officer discourages all travel (especially for non-essential purposes like leisure trips or for non-essential business) and gatherings (especially indoor gatherings). People age 70 or older, or people with serious underlying medical conditions, should stay home except to access critical necessities like food or medicine. People aged 50 to 69 should minimize activities and interactions with people outside their household to the extent practicable. Anyone eligible for a vaccine should take the necessary steps to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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STATE OF CALIFORNIA’S COVID-19 RULES

Where can I find the State’s rules for my industry or activity?

Visit the State’s “Industry guidance to reduce risk” webpage to find the State’s rules for your industry or activity. Note that the rules for your industry or activity may be different depending on which tier of the State’s Blueprint the County is currently in. Depending on the industry or activity, more than one State industry guidance document may apply.

I don’t understand the State’s rules—who can I ask for help?

The County generally does not provide assistance understanding the State’s rules. For more information regarding the State’s requirements, visit the State’s COVID-19 landing page, which links to the State’s Blueprint, Industry Guidance documents, About COVID-19 restrictions page, the California Department of Public Health’s website, and other resources. You may also call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 from Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm. Email questions may be sent to EssentialServicesInquiries@cdph.ca.gov.

What are the current face coverings rules in the county?

Under the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order, you must wear a face covering whenever required to do so by the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings. For additional information, see the FAQs below under “Face Coverings.”

Under the State’s rules, what qualifies as an “outdoor facility”?

To be considered “outdoor,” a facility must meet the State’s definition of an “outdoor operation.”

Is the County enforcing the State’s rules?

Yes.

The State’s Industry Guidance page says that music, film, and TV production is permitted with approval from the County Public Health Officer. Is production allowed in Santa Clara County?

Yes, as long as everyone involved in a music, film, or television production follows all rules in the State Industry Guidance, other applicable State rules, and the County Health Officer’s October 5 Revised Risk Reduction Order to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down.

As of February 22, 2021, the State of California’s “Industry guidance to reduce risk” page includes a section stating that “Music, TV, and film production may resume, subject to approval by county public health officers. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers must abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers.”

As long as these productions comply with all State and County safety rules, such as those relating to wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and maximizing remote work/minimizing the number of staff required onsite, then they are approved in Santa Clara County.

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and Youth Sports Q&A require teams returning to competition to coordinate with “local health authorities.”   What coordination with the County Public Health Department is necessary to comply with this provision?
 

All teams (including individuals, businesses, and other entities) in Santa Clara County must follow the County’s Revised Risk Reduction OrderMandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, and the Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs, as well as all applicable restrictions under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the State’s COVID-19 Industry Guidance (including the State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and, if applicable, the Youth Sports Q&A), and any other State COVID-19 regulation or guidance document (such as the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings).  All applicable State and County COVID-19 rules must be followed, but the County Health Officer has made a determination that no additional coordination with the County’s Public Health Department is required. 

 

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance requires notice to “Local Health Departments” to engage in certain activities.  How do I give notice to the County Public Health Department?
 

Notice can be submitted via email to competitions@cco.sccgov.org.  This email address is for submission of notice only, and you will not receive a response to this email.  The County Public Health Department does not provide or require approvals for specific athletic competitions or events.

 

The State’s Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance and Youth Sports Q&A generally do not permit events or tournaments involving more than two teams, but allow certain exceptions for specified sports with “authorization from the local health department where the event is being held and each of the local health departments where teams originate from.” How do I obtain authorization from the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department?

 

The County Health Officer has granted authorization for events or tournaments involving more than two teams in all sports identified as exempt in the State’s guidance:  track and field, cross-country, golf, skiing, snowboarding, tennis, swimming, diving, surfing, biking, equestrian events, and any other sport “where individual competitors from multiple teams are routine.”  Such events or tournaments must still comply with all other applicable State and County COVID-19 regulations.

If you are not sure whether the State has determined that individual competitors from multiple teams are routine in your sport, you may call the State’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255 (open Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm, or Saturday, 8am to 5pm) or submit an email question to EssentialServicesInquiries@cdph.ca.gov.

Do not contact the County’s Public Health Department or any other County entity to request an exception for your particular event, tournament, or sport.  In addition, neither the Public Health Department nor any other entity of the County of Santa Clara can provide any information as to whether authorization has also been granted by the public health departments in the counties of origin of the visiting teams.  The County Health Officer’s authorization shall not constitute authorization by the local health departments of any other jurisdictions.

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BUSINESSES

What steps does my business need to take to comply with the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order?

First, if your business has a facility in the county that is used by workers or the public, or if your business does work at someone else’s facility, you must complete and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, which must be submitted to the County at www.COVID19Prepared.org using the County’s online form. Social Distancing Protocols submitted prior to October 11 are no longer valid. For more information, review the FAQs related to the Social Distancing Protocol.

Second, you must require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers may go in to work only to complete the job duties they can’t complete from home.

Third, you must report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours if you learn that any of your workers are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. You must also ensure workers alert you if they test positive. If a worker does test positive, you must follow the mandatory instructions listed at www.sccsafeworkplace.org.

Fourth, you must ensure that your personnel and the public are complying with applicable face covering requirements in the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings.

Fifth, you must comply with the State’s Stay at Home Order (available here), including the order issued August 28, 2020, the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and any applicable State Industry Guidance documents.

Sixth, if applicable, you must comply with the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations and the Mandatory Directive on Case Reporting by K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs.

Finally, you must comply with all other applicable provisions of the Revised Risk Reduction Order.

I was contacted by someone who said they were enforcing the County Health Officer’s Order. How can I be sure that this person is authorized to conduct enforcement?

If you have questions about whether someone is authorized by the Health Officer to enforce the local and State Health Officers’ Orders, you can contact the Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500 and ask for confirmation. (Note: County Enforcement Officers will never ask for your credit card information or ask you to pay a fine or fee over the phone.)

Some of my employees are able to work remotely. Are they allowed to work in the office or facility under the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order?

No. All businesses must continue maximizing telework. You must require all personnel to work from home to carry out any employer-assigned work duties that they can complete from home. But these employees may come in to work to carry out any employer-assigned duties that can be completed only from work.

I submitted a Revised Social Distancing Protocol on the County’s website and received my “COVID-19 Prepared” checkmark sign—does that mean that the County has approved my facility to open?

The COVID-19 Prepared checkmark sign only authenticates that you have completed and submitted your Revised Social Distancing Protocol to the County. It does not mean that the County has provided authorization to your business to operate. Regardless of whether you have submitted a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, you must comply with the County and State Health Officer Orders, including any prohibitions on operation for certain types of businesses.

The Revised Social Distancing Protocol requires employers to identify “close contacts” of positive cases from the worksite for 10 days. What does it mean for someone to be a “close contact” of a positive case?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes at any time beginning 2 days before the infected person had symptoms or tested positive. Close contacts include people who had 15 minutes of continuous contact with the infected person, as well as people who had repeated short-duration interactions with the infected person. If an employee is a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you may have to exclude that employee from the workplace if they are required to quarantine.   See the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org for more information on the quarantine and workplace exclusion requirements.

When determining whether someone is a “close contact,” does it matter whether the positive case or the person who came into contact with the positive case was wearing a face covering?

No. While face coverings do reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, they have no impact on the determination of whether someone is a close contact and should quarantine.

The Revised Social Distancing Protocol requires employers to conduct temperature and symptom screenings for employees at the beginning of their shifts. Do the temperature screenings require a temperature check with a thermometer or thermal scanner?

No, measuring employees’ temperatures using a thermometer or thermal scanner is not required. Screening employees for temperature and symptoms means that employees should be asked before starting work if they feel or recently felt feverish, and have or recently had other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, and muscle/body aches. This screening process is required. (Note: Temperature screenings with a thermometer or thermal scanner can increase COVID-19 risk if many employees convene in the same place for screening. If an employer chooses to use a thermometer or thermal scanner to measure employees’ temperatures, they should send home any employees whose temperatures measure 99 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.)

Does the temperature and symptom screening need to be done in-person by a designated screener?

No. Employers may choose to designate screeners to conduct in-person screenings, but they may also choose to have employees self-certify in writing that they have no symptoms. This may be done through a paper form, an online survey, or any other written means.

What are my obligations as an employer under Cal/OSHA’s emergency COVID-19 regulations?

Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards seek to protect employees from COVID-19 in the workplace. For more information regarding these State regulations, see Cal/OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions. The County is unable to provide legal advice regarding how these regulations apply to your workplace, so you are encouraged to address such questions to your legal counsel.

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COVID-19 CASE REPORTING

What should businesses do when they discover that someone tested positive for COVID-19 case at their worksite?

Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org. This step-by-step protocol provides guidance to employers on what to do when someone at their worksite tests positive for COVID-19, including: (1) providing instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker, (2) identifying close contacts, (3) communicating with all employees, (4) reporting the case to Public Health, (5) reporting any hospitalizations and deaths, (6) cleaning and disinfection, and (7) preventing COVID-19 transmission at the workplace.

Why is the County requiring employers to report to Public Health when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19?

This requirement helps slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by allowing the Public Health Department to track positive cases and investigate outbreaks in the workplace. Employers must require that employees tell their employer if they test positive and they were at work within 48 hours of becoming symptomatic or within 48 hours of taking their test. Employers (including government agencies) are required to tell the Public Health Department within 4 hours when one of their employees tests positive for COVID-19 if they were at work during that timeframe (whether the employer learned from their employee or some other source). Follow the instructions at www.sccsafeworkplace.org to report the case using the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal.

I’m an employer. If one of my workers tests positive for COVID-19, but that person has not been to the facility recently, do I have to report the case to the County?

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 who has been working at your facility or worksite within 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms or within 48 hours of the date they were tested, you must submit the requested case and contact data through the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal, as instructed at www.sccsafeworkplace.org. If the person was NOT at the facility or worksite within this time period (for example, an employee who has been working remotely from home), you do not need to report the case to the County.

What is “case investigation and contact tracing?”

It is one of the most important tools available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing interrupts chains of COVID-19 transmission by helping to ensure Public Health can identify potential contacts of any person who tests positive for COVID-19 and support them in safely quarantining. It helps to slow the spread of the virus throughout our County. Contact tracing allows for far fewer restrictions to be put on the activities of the community because COVID-19 transmission chains can be traced and contained before they spread uncontrollably. More information about the County’s case investigation and contact tracing operations is available at the Contact Tracing webpage​.

How do employers report that they have had an employee test positive for COVID-19 to the Public Health Department?

If a positive case is identified at your worksite, submit the requested case and contact data through the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal. Under the Health Officer Order, employers are legally required to submit this report within 4 hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). If you do not have complete information within 4 hours, you must report the information that you have obtained. Later, if you discover additional information after your initial report, you may update the information by submitting a new form with “[Employer Name] – CORRECTION” in the field for “Employer Name.” The information provided will remain confidential and will not be turned over to immigration authorities. ​

What information do employees need to give to their employer if they discover that they tested positive for COVID-19?

Businesses and governmental entities must require that all personnel (employees, contractors, and volunteers) immediately alert the business or government entity if they test positive for COVID-19 and were at the workplace within 48 hours before symptoms began or within 48 hours of the date they were tested. This means that workers must immediately tell their employer that they tested positive for COVID-19 if they were at the worksite during this period. Workers must also assist their employers in identifying their close contacts in the workplace.

When an employee gets tested for COVID-19, who should be listed as the recipient of the test results? Should the results go to the employee (who will then alert the employer if the result is positive), or should the results go directly to the employer?

Employers may (and are encouraged to) offer free testing to their workers, in which case the test results may be reported directly to the employer.  But workers who seek out testing on their own do not need to ask their healthcare provider or the testing laboratory to report their test results directly to the employer, and employers should not require this.

What does the Public Health Department do with my information?

All information gathered for case and contact tracing purposes will be used only for the purpose of tracing and containing COVID-19. Personal information will be kept confidential from anyone not working on contact tracing efforts or containing COVID-19. The County never shares personal information about community members with immigration authorities.

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FACE COVERINGS

What are the face covering requirements in the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order?

Under the County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order, you must wear a face covering whenever required to do so by the State’s Guidance on Face Coverings.

What types of face coverings are safe to wear? Can I wear a face shield instead?

Face coverings that you wear to work at or visit a business may be either disposable surgical masks or reusable cloth masks that you make or buy. Wearing a reusable cloth mask is encouraged to conserve supplies of surgical masks for healthcare workers and other workers who need them, and to reduce waste. The Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to choose face coverings that: ***​

If each of us wears a mask, everyone is protected. You can make yours using two or more layers of common fabric, like cotton. 

  • Have at least two layers of material.
  • Fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin, hooking around your ears or tying behind your head. Do not wear your face covering below your nose or with the top tucked underneath your chin.

The following categories of face coverings do not provide enough protection against the spread of COVID-19, and the Health Officer strongly discourages wearing them:

  • Neck gaiters and single-layer cloth face coverings, because they either fit too loosely or are too thin to offer enough protection.
  • Face coverings with an exhalation valve, because they allow unfiltered air (which may contain droplets and aerosols) to be released.​

Face shields are not equivalent to face coverings. Face coverings are worn tightly over the nose, mouth, and chin help prevent the wearer from spreading potentially infected respiratory droplets and aerosols to other people. Face shields have a different purpose, which is to protect the wearer’s eyes in situations where eye protection is required (e.g., while performing medical procedures close to a patient). Based on available evidence, face shields don’t offer the same protection against spread of droplets and aerosols that properly worn face coverings do. You can certainly wear a face shield over a face covering if you want to, but you cannot wear a face shield instead of a face covering in situations where you are required to wear a face covering. (However, because face shields with cloth drapes on the bottom are likely better than no protection at all, if you are exempt from wearing a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, consider whether you would be able to wear a face shield with a drape, which provides some level of protection without sitting tightly on the face.)

Who does not have to wear a face covering?

The following people do not have to wear face coverings:

  • Children under age two.
  • People who a healthcare professional has advised should not wear a face covering because they have a medical condition that would make wearing a face covering dangerous.
  • People who cannot put on or take off a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired or people who are communicating with someone else who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Workers who must remove their face covering to comply with local, state, or federal rules.
  • People who must take off their face covering to address a basic biological need, like eating or drinking.
  • People who are outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others not in their household (though wearing a face covering is still generally recommended under this circumstance).

People exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

Do I have to wear a face covering while I’m at work? What if I’m alone in my cubicle or sitting far apart from other people in an open workspace?

The County’s Revised Risk Reduction Order adopts the California Department of Public Health’s mandatory Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings. While at work, if you are indoors, you must keep your face covering on at all times unless you are in an office or room all by yourself. If you work in a cubicle or in an open workspace, you must keep your face covering on if there is anyone else in the same office or room as you, even if the office or room is very large. Please note that the Health Officer strongly encourages everyone to wear a face covering even when they are alone in an office or room if any person who is not a member of the same household visits that room. This is because aerosols stay airborne for an extended period of time. It is always safest to wear a face covering if you are able to do so.

You may remove your face covering to eat and drink at work so long as you maintain at least six feet of social distance from others, but you must put your face covering back on as soon as you are finished eating or drinking. Congregating with coworkers to eat indoors is unsafe and strongly discouraged. When possible, workers are strongly encouraged to take their meals during the workday outdoors, or if not, to eat alone at their own desk/workspace or in their vehicles.

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REVISED SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOL

Which entities have to complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

All governmental entities and all businesses (including non-profits, educational entities, and non-governmental organizations) that have a facility in Santa Clara County that is visited by workers or members of the public must complete, submit, and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol. Businesses and governmental entities that have multiple facilities in the County must submit a separate Protocol for each facility. Additionally, businesses and governmental entities that do not have their own facility but that perform work at other facilities (for example, landscapers or dog walkers) must complete, submit, and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol for their operation as a whole.​

I already completed a Social Distancing Protocol under a prior Health Officer Order. Do I need to complete a new one?

Yes. All businesses operating in any way in the County, including businesses that completed a Social Distancing Protocol under a prior Order, must complete and implement a new one using the most recent (October 11) version and submit it at www.COVID19prepared.org using the County’s online form. Social Distancing Protocols submitted prior to October 11, 2020 are no longer valid.

Is the Revised Social Distancing Protocol a requirement, or just guidance?

Revised Social Distancing Protocols are mandatory for all businesses and governmental entities in the County that are operating. Failure to comply with the Revised Social Distancing Protocol requirements is a violation of the Order, and may result in fines and other penalties. Businesses and governmental entities must implement all applicable measures identified in the Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Why are Revised Social Distancing Protocols required?

The Revised Social Distancing Protocol contains up-to-date public health measures designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at business facilities in the County. If your business is allowed to operate, strictly implementing these health and safety protocols is the best way to protect yourself, your workers, and your customers from COVID-19 when they are at your business facility. The updated COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet that must be posted are also designed to show workers and the public that your business is both complying with these requirements and doing its part to keep the community safe.

What does my business or governmental entity need to do to comply with the Revised Social Distancing Protocol requirements?

To comply with the Revised Social Distancing Protocol requirements, your business or governmental entity must do the following:

  1. Complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol for each facility or worksite in the County used by workers or the public, using the updated (October 11) version of the template found in the online form. If your business or governmental entity does not operate a facility or worksite, but provides services to facilities or worksites that your business or entity does not own or operate, then you must fill out one Revised Social Distancing Protocol covering your operations.
  2. Sign and submit the completed Revised Protocol to the County using the online form. You may not submit the Revised Protocol by email, hard copy delivery, or in any other form. It must be submitted using the online form.​
  3. Distribute a copy of the Revised Protocol to all workers (including employees, volunteers, and contractors) that work at the facility or worksite. If your business or governmental entity provides services to multiple facilities or worksites that your business or entity does not own or operate, you must distribute the Revised Protocol both to your workers and to the owner or operator of each facility or worksite where you provide services. Train your workers on the Revised Protocol measures in a language they understand.
  4. Post an updated COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and a Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet at all entrances to your facility or worksite, where they can be easily viewed by the public and workers. (These documents can only be downloaded and printed after you complete your Revised Protocol using the online form.)
  5. Post the signage required in the Revised Protocol at each entrance of the facility or worksite to inform visitors and workers of social distancing, face covering, and health and hygiene requirements.
  6. Implement the measures in your Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Who can complete the Revised Social Distancing Protocol for my business?

The Revised Protocol must be completed by someone authorized to complete and sign it on behalf of the business.

The Order requires that an authorized representative sign and submit the Revised Social Distancing Protocol under penalty of perjury—what does that mean?

“Signed and submitted under penalty of perjury” means that everything written on the online form must be truthful and accurate to the best of the signer’s knowledge. Knowingly submitting false information is a crime.

Will the Revised Social Distancing Protocols be available to the public after they’re submitted to the County?

Yes. All Revised Social Distancing Protocols submitted to the County will be viewable by the public in an online database. Members of the public will be able to use the database to see whether a particular business has submitted a Revised Protocol and what safety measures the business has put in place. This will help everyone in the community feel confident about visiting your business because they will know you are taking the steps required to keep them safe.

Does the County review and approve each Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

No. Although the Revised Social Distancing Protocols are to be submitted online and made viewable by the public, they are not reviewed and approved by the County or Public Health Department. Given the volume, it would not be feasible for the County to review and approve them. The Revised Social Distancing Protocols are posted as submitted, and the County is not responsible for their content. The County is, however, enforcing the requirement that Revised Social Distancing Protocols must be submitted and implemented. If your business fails to submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, your business is subject to enforcement action.

What is the difference between the “Required” and “Optional: Check if Applicable” boxes in the Revised Social Distancing Protocol online form?

“Required” boxes must be checked or filled out by every single business submitting a Revised Social Distancing Protocol. You will not be able to complete the form if you do not check all the required boxes. “Optional: Check if Applicable” boxes only need to be checked if they apply to your business, but you must check every optional box that does apply. If you do not check a box that applies to your business, your Revised Protocol does not comply with the Order.

What does it mean if my Revised Social Distancing Protocol has a watermark that says “IN PROCESS” across each page?

An “IN PROCESS” watermark means you have not finished the DocuSign form and have not successfully submitted your Revised Social Distancing Protocol. Once you have successfully submitted your Protocol, you will get an email with a link to your completed documents, and these completed documents will not have the watermark. If your Protocol says “IN PROCESS,” you have not successfully submitted and you are not yet in compliance with the requirement to submit a Protocol.

What is a “fictitious business name”?

The second box in the Revised Social Distancing Protocol asks for your fictitious business name. This box should be filled out if your legal business name is different from the name your customers recognize or the name you use in day-to-day operations. This box is optional, so if your business is already commonly known by its legal name, you do not need to fill in a fictitious name.

What counts as a “facility/worksite” for the Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

A facility/worksite is a location at which your business operates. For many businesses, facilities/worksites will be buildings. For others, facilities/worksites may be outdoor spaces. A facility/worksite may also be a combination of a building and an outdoor area (such as an agricultural operation that harvests crop in a field and processes the crop in an onsite barn or warehouse).

What if my business performs services at many different sites?

Businesses that perform services at scattered sites (such as landscapers, dog walkers, or in-home cleaning companies) may submit one Revised Social Distancing Protocol for their whole operation and do not need to complete a new Revised Protocol for every place they provide services (for example, every home where a landscaper works). All scattered-site businesses must provide a copy of their Revised Protocol to the owner or operator of each place they perform services (in addition to providing the Revised Protocol to all workers).

If a scattered-site business has a facility (like a headquarters office or a maintenance yard), the Revised Social Distancing Protocol must list that facility address in the “Street Address” field at the top of the Protocol form, and the signage required by the Revised Social Distancing Protocol must be posted at the facility. These businesses should not check the “No Business Facility” box at the top of the form (because they have a facility, even if some or most of their services take place elsewhere).

However, if a scattered-site business does not have a facility of any kind and workers work only from scattered sites, these businesses should not fill in the “Street Address” field at the top of the Revised Social Distancing Protocol form. Instead, they should click the “No Business Facility” box. These businesses will not need to post any signage (because they do not have a facility in which to post it). They should still go through the form carefully and check any boxes that apply to their business.

If a business has multiple facilities, however, it must fill out a Revised Social Distancing Protocol form for each location.

I run a business out of my home. Do I need to submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

It depends. All businesses must complete, submit, and implement a Revised Social Distancing Protocol for every facility/worksite that is visited by personnel or members of the public. If you run a business out of your home, you must submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol if: (1) anyone outside your household comes to your home to work as a staff member or to visit as a client or customer; (2) you provide services at sites that you do not own or operate; or (3) you personally deliver products to homes or places of business. (Note: The examples below are illustrative only. Some businesses listed in the examples may be closed to the public under current Health Officer orders. Please review any industry-specific guidance to make sure you know all the rules that apply to your business.)

Example 1: You run an electronics repair business out of your home. You are the only employee, but customers come to your home to drop off and pick up their items for repair. You must complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol because your business facility is visited by customers.

Example 2: You run an accounting business out of your home. You have an employee who comes to your home twice a week to help with paperwork. The employee does not live with you. You must complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol because your business facility is visited by your employee.

Example 3: You run a landscaping business out of your home. You store your equipment at your home and each day drive to various homes and businesses where you provide your services. You must complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol and provide a copy to the owner or operator of each home or business where you provide your services.

Example 4: You make furniture in your garage, and deliver it to people’s homes. You must complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Example 5: You run a graphic design business out of your home. You and your spouse, who lives with you, are the only two employees. All your client meetings are virtual, so no one visits your home for business purposes. You do not need to complete a Revised Social Distancing Protocol.

Are government agencies required to complete Revised Social Distancing Protocols for facilities where essential governmental functions are being performed?

Yes.

I have closed my business to the public, and workers are onsite only to perform minimum basic operations. Does it need a Revised Social Distancing Protocol?

Yes. All business facilities and worksites used in any way by workers or the public must have a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, including those that are only visited by workers performing minimum basic operations.

I filled out my Revised Social Distancing Protocol and pressed “Finish.” What happens now? How do I access and print the completed documents?

If you filled out every required box, after you press “Finish,” an email will be sent to the email address you entered at the beginning of the submission process before you began to fill out the form (the email for the “Submitter”). This email will contain a link that says “View Completed Documents.” Click this link to view and print your completed Revised Social Distancing Protocol and signage.

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CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

Where can I find the capacity limitation for my industry?

The capacity limitations for each industry may be found on the State’s industry guidance page. Additionally, every business must comply with the County’s Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations. You may also visit www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity for information on how to calculate the capacity limitation for your facility.

Which rooms in my facility are subject to indoor capacity limitations?

Under the Mandatory Directive on Capacity Limitations, capacity limitations apply to every indoor room or area in a facility that members of the public visit in order to engage in activities subject to the state’s COVID-19 rules (not including, for example, hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms).

Here are some examples of rooms that are likely capacity-limited for different types of facilities (Note: only applicable when these facilities are allowed to open indoors):

  • Indoor museums, zoos, and aquariums: Galleries, exhibit halls
  • Indoor gyms and fitness facilities: Exercise floors, fitness areas, group fitness rooms, locker rooms
  • Indoor dining facilities: Dining rooms, lobbies
  • Indoor family entertainment centers: Activity or entertainment areas
  • Any facility hosting an indoor gathering (including places of worship, movie theaters, cardrooms, and private residences): Gathering areas, lobbies

The above list is not all-inclusive, and other rooms may be subject to capacity limitations as well depending on how your facility is laid out and how it is used. Generally, restrooms, hallways, and other rooms are not subject to capacity limitations, but 6-foot physical distancing must always be maintained.

If a room in my facility isn’t subject to a capacity limitation, do I still have to limit the number of people who are inside of it at the same time?

Yes. You must always limit the number of people inside each room to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from everyone not in their household.

Do personnel/staff members count toward the Health Officer capacity limitation?

Yes. Capacity limitations set the maximum number of people who may be in any capacity-limited room/area at the same time. This includes both members of the public and personnel/staff.

If I have a very small facility, can I have 1 employee and 1 customer inside the facility at the same time (even though that’s above my Reduced Maximum Capacity)?

Yes. For very small facilities that are allowed to be open to the public indoors where the Reduced Maximum Capacity is 1 (or less than 1), you may have 1 customer and 1 employee inside the store at the same time. Your Reduced Maximum Capacity signs should say “2.”

What happens if I calculate my Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result isn’t a whole number?

You may round up to the nearest whole number (and rounding up is allowed even if your decimal is below .5). For example, if you calculate your Reduced Maximum Capacity and the result is 13.25, you may round up to 14.

How can I find the normal maximum occupancy for my facility?

All rooms/areas within commercial buildings have a maximum occupancy that is determined by the Fire Marshal based on the California Building Code. The maximum occupancy sets the limit on how many people can use the room/area at once under normal circumstances (but note that the State sets more stringent requirements on some facilities in its Blueprint for a Safer Economy). Under the Building Code, in some rooms/areas, the maximum occupancies must be posted near the main exit. Most rooms used for assembly, dining, and drinking will have posted maximum occupancies. If you don’t know your facility’s normal maximum occupancy and it’s not posted, you can find it by reviewing your facility’s planning documents or contacting the Fire Marshal.

One of the rooms in my facility has multiple uses, and the different uses are subject to different State capacity limitations. How do I determine which State capacity limitation applies?

If a room is being used simultaneously for multiple activities that have different capacity limitations, you must apply the strictest capacity limitation that applies to any of the room’s activities.

My facility has multiple rooms that are used regularly by customers. The only posted maximum occupancy sign I have at my facility applies to the entire facility, not to individual rooms. How do I calculate my capacity limitation?

Generally, as explained above, the capacity limitation calculation should be conducted for individual rooms/areas. However, if you have a posted maximum occupancy for your entire facility rather than individual rooms/areas (which is uncommon), you may use that number and calculate one maximum capacity for the entire facility. But you will need to take steps to spread out your customers and staff to make sure that they are evenly spread throughout the facility and do not cluster together in any particular room.

Do I have to enforce the capacity limitations at my facility?

Yes. Businesses are responsible for making sure their facilities do not exceed any applicable capacity limitations. Failure to do so may lead to County enforcement action.

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ACCESS AND FUNCTIONAL NEEDS

While the Health Officer’s Order is in effect, do businesses and public entities still need to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Yes. The Health Officer’s Order makes no changes to ADA requirements, and the ADA remains in full force countywide. Businesses and public entities must comply with their usual ADA obligations, even if they are making changes to their facilities to implement their Social Distancing Protocols. For example, if a business chooses to rearrange furniture in its facility to make it easier for customers to practice social distancing, the new furniture arrangement must follow ADA requirements for ingress and egress. Similarly, if a restaurant decides to open outdoor dining, it may not position its outdoor tables and chairs so that they block or intrude on the public right of way.

Visit www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm for further information on ADA requirements for businesses.

I use a wheelchair van or other adapted vehicle. Will I be able to use the County’s drive-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Drive-up testing sites can accommodate wheelchair vans and other adapted vehicles. Note that drive-up testing sites will generally ask you to remain inside your vehicle while you self-administer your test.

I use a wheelchair/powerchair or have another physical disability. Will I be able to use the County’s walk-up/roll-up COVID-19 testing sites?

Yes. Walk-up/roll-up testing sites are accessible, and onsite staff are available to aid anyone who may need assistance.

I rely on public transportation or paratransit to get around. If I want to get tested for COVID-19, how can I arrange transportation to a testing site?

Please see the County’s testing website and this flowchart for directions on how to secure transportation to a testing site. If you still have questions after reviewing the testing website and flowchart, please contact the County’s Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at afncoordinator@eoc.sccgov.org.

How is the County making sure that its communications about COVID-19 are accessible to people with language access or language processing needs?

The County is taking many steps to ensure that its communications are accessible to every member of the community. The Public Health Department’s entire COVID-19 website is fully translated into five different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), and postings include Alt Text functionality. The County is regularly conducting online presentations to share important information in a video-based format, and video presentations include real-time ASL interpretation. The County has also designed signs, flyers, and posters that include informative graphics alongside text to ensure that they are as comprehensible as possible to all.

Does the County offer its COVID-19 materials in accessible formats (hard copies, large print, etc.)?

Yes. If you have an access or functional need and require the County’s COVID-19 materials in an accessible format, please contact the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at afncoordinator@eoc.sccgov.org for assistance.

Do I need a doctor’s note to enter a business without a face covering if I have a medical condition or a disability that prevents me from wearing a face covering?

No. Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons. Please see the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

I’m a business owner, and my facility is visited by customers. The Revised Social Distancing Protocol says I must require all customers to wear face coverings at my facility (except for customers who are exempt). What are my obligations under this requirement?

If a customer tries to enter your facility without a face covering, you should ask that person, “Is there a medical or disability-related reason why you cannot wear a face covering?” You should not ask the person to tell you their specific medical condition or disability. If the person says they cannot wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, you should allow the person to enter your facility and should not require them to produce a doctor’s note.

If a customer does not have a medical or disability-related reason why they cannot wear a face covering but refuses to wear a face covering regardless, you must deny that customer entry to your facility. If a customer becomes belligerent after you deny entry, you may call the police and request help in enforcing the face covering requirement at your facility.

I run a retail business, and I’m not comfortable allowing anyone into my store without a face covering. What can my business do to accommodate shoppers who can’t wear face coverings for medical or disability-related reasons?

If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, retailers may not deny entry to that customer just because they are not wearing a face covering. But retailers are strongly encouraged to offer accommodations to these customers so that they can access the retailer’s services without entering the business facility. Accommodations may include things like offering delivery services, or accepting customers’ shopping lists over the phone or at curbside and bringing the items outside to the customer so they don’t need to enter the store.

I’m not comfortable going shopping in person because I cannot wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason. Are there any resources to help me with my shopping?

Delivery services offered by retail and grocery stores are good options for people who are not comfortable shopping in person. There are also free resources, like helpinghands.community, a community-based non-profit that provides delivery and other support services.

I cannot wear a face mask for a medical or disability-related reason. Am I required to wear one?

Face coverings are one of the most important tools available to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and anyone who is able to wear a face covering safely must do so. However, the following people are not required to wear face coverings, even while at a business or in places where they cannot maintain social distancing:

  • Very young children.
  • People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. This includes people who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
  • People who are hearing impaired or are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, if the ability to see each other’s mouths is essential for communication.
  • Others specified in the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.

Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons. Please see the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

I have a question related to access and functional needs. Where can I go for assistance?

The following resources are available to people with questions related to access and functional needs:

What steps can I take to be as prepared as possible in case of an emergency?

Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, and it is especially vital for people with access and functional needs who may need additional preparations to stay safe during an emergency. All County residents are encouraged to sign up for notifications, which is a free and easy way to get emergency alerts sent directly to your cell phone or mobile device, landline, or email. You can sign up for AlertSCC notifications here. In addition, the County Office of Emergency Management’s website has resources to help all County residents design a disaster safety plan for their families and loved ones. The following are more specific preparedness guides for people with access and functional needs:

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Last updated: 4/10/2021 8:44 AM