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Governor Newsom’s 'Stay at Home' Order Allows Construction to Continue, but Many Cities and Counties are Banning Most Construction

Governor Newsom’s 'Stay at Home' Order Allows Construction to Continue, but Many Cities and Counties are Banning Most Construction

 Updated: April 4, 2020

On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Director of the California Department of Public Health ordered all Californians to stay home “except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.” The 16 critical infrastructure sectors include the following sectors relevant to construction:

  • “Commercial Facilities” includes office buildings and office parks, apartment buildings, multifamily towers and condominiums, mixed-use facilities, self-storage facilities, hotels, motels, conference centers, malls, shopping centers, and strip malls, as well as freestanding retail establishments.
  • “Critical Manufacturing” includes facilities that manufacture metals, machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles, ships, and trains.
  • “Critical Transportation” infrastructure includes roads and highways, rail, mass transit and light rail, and pipelines.
  • “Critical Energy” includes electricity, oil, and natural gas. Solar, wind, and geothermal energy production is noted to support electricity infrastructure.
  • “Critical Government” infrastructure includes government-owned general-use office buildings and special-use military installations, embassies, courthouses, national laboratories, election infrastructure and structures that may house critical equipment, systems, networks, and functions. This sector also includes K-12 schools and institutions of higher education and trade schools.
  • “Water and Wastewater Systems” include water sources, conveyance infrastructure (pipes or canals), reservoirs or lakes, treatment facilities, finished water storage facilities, distribution systems (pipes, tanks, pumps and valves), and monitoring systems.

On March 28, 2020, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory memorandum on identifying essential critical infrastructure workers. That memorandum makes several references to construction workers, including in the following contexts:

  • Renewable energy infrastructure
  • Fuels
    • Drilling (onshore and offshore)
    • Pipelines
    • Processing plants
  • Critical or strategic infrastructure
  • Temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response
  • Communications sector-related infrastructure
  • Essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing services
  • Permits and inspections for construction supporting essential infrastructure
  • Construction for essential products, services, and supply chain and COVID 19 relief efforts
  • Housing construction related activities

The California Department of Public Health has provided further guidance on the state’s COVID-19 Response website, which clarifies that the Governor’s order excludes activities that are “needed to maintain the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.” (Emphasis added.) And on March 22, 2020, the Director of the California Department of Public Health published a list of critical infrastructure workers, which includes “Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction).”

The state and federal guidance relating to Governor Newsom’s Stay at Home order make clear that the order permits much construction to continue. However, many local jurisdictions have enacted more restrictive local shelter-in-place orders placing significant limits on construction. Project owners and contractors should adhere to the more restrictive orders and contact local officials about whether their project may continue. For more information regarding COVID-19 and its impacts on the construction industry, please visit Hanson Bridgett’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Michelle Akerman
Michelle Akerman
San Francisco, CA
Ellis Raskin
Ellis Raskin
Senior Counsel
Los Angeles, CA
Sean Marciniak
Sean Marciniak
San Francisco, CA