After six months of shutdowns and restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, San Francisco allowed restaurants to reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity up to 100 people on September 30, 2020. Restaurants reopening for indoor dining must not only follow public health guidelines, but must also ensure employee safety and protection of employee rights.
Important actions for San Francisco restaurants reopening for indoor dining include:
- Follow City Requirements on Reopening
- Educate Employees About When They Should Stay Home from Work
- Promptly Identify and Notify Workers Of Positive COVID-19 Cases
- Review Employee Leave and Anti-Discrimination Policies
- Maintain Confidential Employee Health Information
Below are more details related to each action.
1. Follow City Requirements on Reopening
In order to move forward with indoor dining, restaurants are required to adhere to guidelines from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. For instance, the City’s requirements state: (1) Tables must only seat 6, and customers must be 6 feet apart; (2) everyone must wear face coverings; (3) contact between people must be minimized; and (4) Surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned between customers. For more information, see sf.gov.
2. Educate Employees About When They Should Stay Home from Work
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) also set forth recommendations for employers to protect employees in the workplace and to ensure their safety. The CDC recommends that:
- Employees should stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Employees who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health.
- Employers should actively encourage employees who are sick or have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home.
- Employers should develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisal, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.
For more information, see CDC.gov.
3. Promptly Identify and Notify Workers Of Positive COVID-19 Cases
Restaurants should create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan to respond to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This should include a system for employees to provide notice if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have come in contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Our attorneys at Minami Tamaki LLP can assist you with creating this plan.
On September 17, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 685, which created new requirements for employers to notify local and state public health officials of COVID-19 cases in the workplace. If a restaurant (or other employer) receives notice that a worker who tested positive for COVID-19 or is subjected to an isolation order was in the workplace while considered potentially infectious, the restaurant must provide notice to all workers within one business day of potential exposure to COVID-19. The notice must contain information about COVID-19 related benefits the employees are entitled to, and the employer’s disinfection and safety plan. Restaurants must also notify local public health officials within 48 hours of “outbreaks” in the workplace, as defined by the State Department of Public Health. AB 685 takes effect in January 2021.
4. Review Employee Leave and Anti-Discrimination Policies
Restaurants should review, analyze, and modify their leave policies as appropriate to ensure employees are not improperly penalized for taking sick leave due to COVID-19. Our attorneys at Minami Tamaki LLP can assist you with reviewing your leave policies.
On September 11, 2020, San Francisco implemented the COVID-Related Employment Protections Ordinance. Under the Ordinance, restaurants (and other employers) may not take any adverse action (such as termination or suspension) against or in any manner discriminate against a worker due to specific COVID-19 issues. For instance, restaurants may not take adverse action against a worker who is absent from work, unable to work, or who requests time off work, because the worker tested positive for COVID-19, is isolating or quarantining, or previously isolated or quarantined, due to COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. Further, restaurants may not take any adverse action against a worker because the worker tested positive for COVID-19 or is perceived to have been infected with COVID-19. The Ordinance will expire on November 10, 2020 unless reenacted by the Board of Supervisors.
For more information on the Ordinance, see sfgov.org.
5. Maintain Confidential Employee Health Information
All employee health information, including COVID-19 test results, must be kept private and confidential. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, restaurants should notify employees in a way that does not reveal the personal health information of the employee.
For more information on requirements for San Francisco restaurants reopening for indoor dining, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.
*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.