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On March 19, 2020, in an unprecedented exercise of executive authority, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20, to become effective immediately, directing “all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence.” The executive order exempts from the directive individuals “needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.” The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), has identified 16 critical infrastructure sectors listed on its website. The order is expected to impact more than 1.5 million California employers.

Employers seeking to identify critical infrastructure workers can consult CISA’s March 19, 2020, “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response.” The 16 sectors identified are the following:

  • Chemical
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Communications
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Healthcare and Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
  • Transportation Systems
  • Water and Wastewater Systems

The executive order emphasizes that “Californians working in these 16 critical infrastructure sectors may continue their work” due to the importance of the sectors to Californians’ health and well-being.

The executive order additionally provides individuals with the flexibility to continue to meet basic needs. It emphasizes that “Californians must have access to such necessities as food, prescriptions, and health care.” However, the order cautions that “[w]hen people need to leave their homes . . . to obtain or perform the functions above, or to otherwise facilitate authorized necessary activities, they should at all times practice social distancing.”

The executive order additionally requires the state’s health care delivery system to “prioritize services to serving those who are the sickest,” and to “prioritize resources, including personal protective equipment, for the providers providing direct care to them.”

The order presents a number of significant compliance issues for California employers doing business in California. Additional information about the order is available on California’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response frequently asked questions webpage.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Critical information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.


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