Brace for fast-paced changes due to COVID

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As COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state, the regulatory landscape is once again changing as local and state authorities try to stem the tide. Below is information about new requirements that may apply to your dealership. Scali Rasmussen anticipates that there will be additional updates in the coming days and weeks. Contact us now to determine how your dealership will comply with these requirements and protect itself from liability.

New Cal/OSHA regulations

Cal/OSHA finalized new temporary standards for employers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These regulations largely reinforce the requirements of the Governor’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy guidance. The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Establish, implement, and maintain an effective written COVID-19 Prevention Program that includes:
    • Identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards.
    • Implementing effective policies and procedures to correct unsafe and unhealthy conditions (such as safe physical distancing, modifying the workplace and staggering work schedules).
    • Providing and ensuring workers wear face coverings to prevent exposure in the workplace.
  • Provide effective training and instruction to employees on how COVID-19 is spread, infection prevention techniques, and information regarding COVID-19-related benefits that affected employees may be entitled to under applicable federal, state, or local laws.
  • If there are three or more cases of COVID-19 within 14 days at a workplace, offer COVID-19 testing to potentially exposed employees at no cost to the employees during their working hours and provide them with the information on benefits COVID related benefits.
  • Contact the local health department no later than 48 hours after learning of three or more COVID-19 cases within 14-days to obtain guidance on preventing the further spread of COVID-19 within their workplace.
  • Maintain a record of and track all COVID-19 cases among employees, while ensuring medical information remains confidential. These records must be made available to employees, authorized employee representatives, or as otherwise required by law, with personal identifying information removed.

If your dealership has worked with Scali Rasmussen to develop a written COVID prevention plan, your prevention program is largely compliant with these new regulations. If you have not established a compliant written plan, now is the time to take action.

LA County designates automotive retail as essential business

While the state has designated automotive retail as an essential business since this spring, LA County had not. When the County issued new business restrictions over the Thanksgiving holiday, this issue came to a head, with the County requiring non-essential retail to maintain 20% occupancy within its sales facilities.

LA County has now updated its Health Officer Order to designate automotive retail as an essential business. Under the County’s restrictions, dealerships may maintain 35% occupancy within sales facilities. However, we continue to recommend that dealerships follow the statewide guidance, which requires dealerships to maintain 25% capacity if they are located in a county designated as “Purple Tier.” Nearly all urban counties in the state, including all southern California urban counties, are currently in the Purple Tier.

Reminder: COVID reporting requirement

As Scali Rasmussen attorneys discussed in our recent New Laws 2021 webinar, California passed new laws requiring businesses to report cases of COVID in certain circumstances, and to inform employees of potential COVID exposures. SB 1159, which is effective now, requires, among other things, that when an employer knows or reasonably should know that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the employer must report this to their workers’ compensation claims administrator. Under this law an “outbreak” exists if within 14 calendar days, one of the following occurs at a specific place of employment:

  • If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, 4 employees test positive for COVID-19.
  • If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, 4 percent of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment test positive for COVID-19.
  • A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.

Employers may be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000 for violating these reporting requirements.