California Governor Orders All Residents to Stay at Home 

March 20, 2020

On March 19, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 (order) ordering all California residents to “stay at home or their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of federal critical infrastructure sectors.” The order is the first statewide order in the nation ordering employees to stay home in an attempt to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. California has been one of the most impacted states during the pandemic, with more than 850 confirmed cases and 17 deaths in the state as of March 19, 2020. The order follows in the wake of numerous California counties and municipalities ordering its residents to shelter in place during the pandemic.

Governor Newsom’s order took effect immediately on Thursday night and will continue indefinitely. While all residents are ordered to stay at home, the order excepts workers of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Details can be found here. The critical infrastructure sectors are:

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

These sectors include many different businesses and business types. For example, the Critical Manufacturing Sector includes industries that serve in manufacturing metals, machinery, electrical equipment, as well as transportation equipment. The Commercial Facilities Sectors consists of subsectors such as lodging, entertainment and media, retail, real estate, and sports leagues.

The exceptions generally include not just the businesses directly within the sectors, but also the businesses that support these sectors. For example, companies that package products for the health industry are essential businesses even if they do not directly manufacture health products. Nearly all health care services are excepted from the order, as well as other vital businesses that we rely on in our daily lives. Some essential services that will remain open are:

  • Gas stations;
  • Pharmacies; 
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants; 
  • Banks;
  • Laundromats/laundry services; and
  • Essential state and local government functions including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

Establishments such as dine-in restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness studios, and public events spaces will be closed. The above lists are not exhaustive, so all employers should refer to the order for guidance and seek the advice of legal counsel prior to requiring their employees to remain home during the workday.

This order is enforceable pursuant to California law and makes violations a misdemeanor crime under California Government Code section 8665, punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment not to exceed six months.


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Brett C. Greving


(415) 262-8304

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Please reach out to the legal professionals at Cozen O’Connor for assistance in transitioning employees during this difficult time.