by Alexandra P. Saddik and Jonathan R. Babione

As you likely know, throughout November, California has been experiencing a steady rise of COVID-19 cases that prompted both state and local governments to impose a new round of restrictions on businesses.

Below are summaries of the recent updates from the various state and Northern California agencies.


State-level COVID-19 restrictions have tightened significantly, putting additional obligations on businesses.

Tier System: In response to state-collected data, California revised the requirements to the four-tier system that has been in effect since the summer. The state will now announce tier movements more than once a week, meaning that counties can slide back into more restrictive tiers at any time more than once during the week. Additionally, counties can slide back multiple tiers at once. Once a county slides back into a more restrictive tier, businesses in that county have only 24 hours to implement the changes required by that tier, including shutdowns and capacity restrictions. Businesses can determine what state restrictions apply to them at

Limited Stay-At-Home Order: Effective November 21, 2020, California implemented a curfew for all counties that are in the purple tier, requiring non-essential businesses to cease operations between 10 PM and 5 AM. The curfew also requires Californians to limit nonessential travel between 10 PM and 5 AM.

Cal/OSHA Work Standard: On November 19, 2020, Cal/OSHA voted to adopt an emergency standard that requires employers to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers must implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program that allows for social distancing, mask wearing, effective contact tracing, criteria for returning to work, and training on COVID-19 prevention measures. Employers may also be required to provide free testing during working hours and must pay employees who are excluded from work due to exposure to COVID-19.


The changes made at the state level severely impacted the county restrictions. Additionally, some counties are opting to err on being more restrictive than the state.

Alameda County: Alameda County is currently back in the purple tier and must adhere to the requirements set forth by the state for counties in the purple tier. The county has not issued any additional restrictions, although officials did warn that additional restrictions may come if the cases continue to rise. Additional information regarding the Alameda County health orders can be found at

Contra Costa County: Contra Costa County has also moved back into the purple tier and is currently aligned with the state requirements with the caveat that additional restrictions may occur if cases continue to rise. Additional information regarding the Contra Costa County health orders can be found at

San Francisco: The state recently moved San Francisco back into the purple tier. As of now, San Francisco is aligned with the state restrictions. More information regarding San Francisco’s health orders can be found at

San Mateo County: San Mateo County has also backslid into the purple tier and is currently complying with state restrictions. Additional information regarding San Mateo County’s health orders can be found at

Santa Clara County: Due to a steep rise of COVID-19 infections, Santa Clara is in the purple along with the other Bay Area counties. Additionally, effective November 30, 2020, Santa Clara County ordered restrictions that exceed the purple tier requirements. Where the purple tier requirements and the new county requirements conflict, the county requirements prevail as they are more restrictive.

Grocery stores, drug stores, and pharmacies are limited to 25% capacity; all other indoor services are restricted to 10% capacity. Only First Amendment protected gatherings such as religious services and protests are allowed; these gatherings must be outdoors and limited to no more than 100 people. Professional, collegiate, and youth sports are banned, and cardrooms must close. Santa Clara County also requires anyone traveling into Santa Clara County from a point of origin that is greater than 150 miles away from county borders to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Additional information about Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 restrictions can be found at

The policies and restrictions pertaining to COVID-19 are constantly changing, particularly since the state is in the middle of a surge that coincides with flu season. Ferber Law is keeping track of these updates and is prepared to answer any questions you may have as we continue to navigate through this pandemic.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.