Lodging Industry Update:
California Issues Requirement for Written Site-Specific
COVID-19 Prevention Plan Before Hotels May Reopen
On May 7, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom released industry guidance – including for hotels and lodging employers – to begin reopening with modifications that reduce risk and establish a safer environment for workers and guests. The guidance for the lodging industry imposes a number of requirements included among them that every employer must develop a comprehensive, worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan prior to reopening. When complete, businesses can post the industry-specific checklist in their workplace to show customers and employees that they’ve reduced the risk and are open for business.
The state is moving forward on its roadmap for modifying the statewide order. The Resilience Roadmap stages that California is using to guide its gradual reopening process are:
Stage 1: Safety and Preparedness
Stage 2: Lower-Risk Workplaces
Stage 3: Higher-Risk Workplaces
Stage 4: End of Stay at Home Order
As of May 8, 2020, California has moved into Stage 2 of modifying the state’s stay at home order. Under the current statewide order, hotels and other lodging establishments may only open for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, providing accommodation for essential workers, or providing housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations.
It is anticipated that hotels and lodging establishments will be allowed to reopen for leisure and tourism at some point under Stage 3, in conjunction with any applicable county shelter-in-place order. In order to prepare for such reopening, business establishments must:
Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific COVID-19 prevention plan
Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
Implement individual control measures and screenings
Implement disinfecting protocols
Implement physical distancing guidelines
In addition to being required by this new California guidance, having a comprehensive, documented COVID-19 worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan will help put hotels in a better position should they have to respond to a Cal/OSHA hazard alert letter or COVID-19-related enforcement inspection. Cal/OSHA district offices throughout the state have been inundated with COVID-19 complaints; the district managers with whom we have spoken all report receiving a steady stream of complaints about all manner of concerns ranging from lack of personnel protective equipment, failure to enforce social distancing, and inadequate cleaning protocols.
Disseminating a worksite-specific COVID-19 prevention plan to employees will not only help reassure them that business is adopting measures to keep them safe—hopefully dissuading them from complaining to any state agency—but it can also help if the business is faced with a whistleblower retaliation complaint. One of the best ways to demonstrate that an employee’s refusal to return to work was unreasonable is to be able to show an investigator that the employer is implementing robust safety policies and procedures, as confirmed through a comprehensive, customized worksite-specific COVID-19 plan.
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If you would like help developing such a plan, please contact one of the Conn Maciel Carey attorneys with whom you have worked. Our COVID-19 Task Force has developed a template plan, and with some coordination, we can help tailor the plan to your workplace and work operations.
For additional resources on issues related to COVID-19, please visit Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 FAQ Page for an extensive index of frequently asked questions with our answers about HR, employment law, and OSHA regulatory related developments and guidance. Likewise, subscribe to our Employer Defense Report blog and OSHA Defense Report blog for regular updates about the Labor and Employment Law or OSHA implications of COVID-19 in the workplace. Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force is monitoring federal, state, and local developments closely and is continuously updating these blogs and the FAQ page with the latest news and resources for employers.
Partner, Labor • Employment Practice Group
Conn Maciel Carey LLP
Of Counsel, OSHA • Workplace Safety Group
Conn Maciel Carey LLP
Associate, Labor • Employment Practice Group
Conn Maciel Carey LLP
Last Updated May 13, 2020
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