Updated January 13, 2021
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Dealership Operations and Health Requirements
The State of California and various local jurisdictions have issued orders that greatly impact dealership operations. Outlined below is a summary of these requirements.
A 10 Day Quarantine Is Now Possible For Employees That Come in Close Contact With an Infected Individual. (Updated December 23, 2020) Last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) adopted revised quarantine guidance that allows asymptomatic close contacts (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) to discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure with or without testing. (Click here) This reduces the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days.
All exposed asymptomatic contacts permitted to reduce the quarantine period to less than 14 days must:
• Adhere strictly to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others and the interventions required below, through Day 14.
• Use surgical face masks at all times during work for those returning after Day 7 and continue to use face coverings when outside the home through Day 14 after last exposure.
• Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms through Day 14 and if symptoms occur, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health department or healthcare provider and seek testing.
Also, dealers considering allowing employees to return after 10 days instead of 14 days should note that Cal/OSHA has not updated its regulations on COVID-19 exposure, which require a 14 day quarantine period. (Click here.) Therefore, dealers that wish to continue requiring a 14 day quarantine period still have a basis to do so.
Statewide Operation and Health Requirements. All dealerships in California should review and implement the statewide guidance on COVID-19 dealership operations. (Click here.) All dealerships should post a copy of the state COVID-19 checklist to demonstrate that they are reducing the risk and are open for business. (Click here.)
On July 24, the California Department of Public Health issued a “COVID-19 Employer Playbook” that summarizes key requirements to operate a business in the current pandemic environment. This includes following industry-specific guidance and checklists and response protocols for when employees contract COVID-19. You can download the COVID-19 Employer Playbook by clicking here.
Face Masks. On June 18th, the California Department of Public Health issued guidance requiring Californians to wear face coverings statewide in many circumstances, including in most public indoor settings (such as inside dealership showrooms). Workers must wear face coverings in many additional circumstances, such as when they are working in spaces visited by members of the public or when they are unable to physically distance from others. Dealers throughout California are encouraged to promptly review this guidance, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Regional Stay Home and Other Local Orders (Updated January 13, 2021). Yesterday, California lifted the Regional Stay Home order for the Greater Sacramento Region. The lifting of the Stay Home Order for the Sacramento Region means that dealerships in the following counties are generally now subject to less stringent county-level requirements: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba. With the exceptions of Sierra County and Alpine County, these counties are currently in the “purple tier,” which imposes a 25% indoor occupancy limit (instead of the 20% occupancy limit under the Regional Stay Home Order).
The state’s Regional Stay Home Order is triggered the day after a region has been announced to have less than 15% ICU availability, and it currently applies to most California dealerships. The Order prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes and imposes restrictions on business activity, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing. Once triggered, the order will remain in effect for at least 3 weeks. After that period, it will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial 3 week period. You can access the current status of the regional stay home order by clicking here.
After incorporating this new information, the following represents our best understanding of the current status of vehicle sales operations in California:
- Regional Stay Home Order
- Key Limitations
- 20% indoor occupancy limit. (This likely includes dealership sales and parts departments. It’s unclear if this includes service departments, but dealers should use their best efforts to reduce occupancy in all areas.)
- Entrance metering and refrain from selling food or drinks for in-store consumption.
- Note: Generally, staff is excluded when calculating occupancy limits. (See below) However, staff must be included in Santa Clara County. (See below)
- Applicable Jurisdictions
- San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
- Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura
- Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
- Key Limitations
- Purple Tier Counties Where No Regional Stay Home Order is in Effect
- Key Limitations: 25% indoor occupancy limit. (This includes dealership sales and parts departments. It’s unclear if this includes service departments, but dealers should use their best efforts to reduce occupancy in all areas.)
- Applicable Jurisdictions: Click here for your county’s status.
- Counties Not in the Purple Tier and No Regional Stay Home Order is in Effect
- Key Limitations: 50% indoor occupancy limit.
- Applicable Jurisdictions: Click here for your county’s status.
- Notable Local Restrictions
The state has clarified that capacity restrictions are based on fire department occupancy limits and the fire code. “In most cases the capacity limit does NOT include staff under the fire code; individual premises will know from their own individualized fire department occupancy limits whether staff are included.” (Click here.) As such, dealers should generally be able to exclude staff from calculating occupancy/capacity limits at their store. If you have questions on this, consider contacting your local fire department.
Regardless of what occupancy limit applies in your county, it’s a good idea to use your best efforts to limit the number of persons inside your dealership. In the event a health inspector visits your dealership, they will want to know that you are taking these restrictions seriously and are taking necessary precautions to mitigate risk. These occupancy restrictions should be implemented in conjunction with other safety precautions, such as social distancing, daily employee symptom checks, face coverings, and the reporting of “outbreaks” to local health departments.
Local Jurisdictions Adopt Travel Quarantine Requirements. California recommends that people quarantine for 14 days following non-essential interstate travel. (Click here.) However, several local jurisdictions are now requiring residents to quarantine following non-essential travel. On December 28, the Los Angeles Public Health Department imposed a requirement that residents quarantine for 10 days following travel outside of LA County. (Click here) Santa Clara County has also imposed a requirement that residents quarantine for 10 days following non-essential travel more than 150 miles outside the County’s borders. (Click here.) These orders should not be read to apply to dealership employees that commute to work from outside LA or Santa Clara counties, as such commutes are considered “essential” travel.
Online Sales and Remote Deliveries. Dealers interested in online sales should review the DMV memorandum on online sales, which you can access here.
Congress Passes New Stimulus Bill; Includes New PPP Loans; Does Not Extend FFCRA Paid Leave. (Updated December 23, 2020) On December 21, Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill. The bill includes various important elements, including the expansion of unemployment benefits and the creation of a new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The President still needs to sign the legislation for it to take effect.
On December 22, NADA released a detailed summary of the key elements of interest to dealers in the new stimulus bill. You can access this resource by clicking here.
Dealers should note that the pandemic relief bill does not extend employer paid leave obligations in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expires on December 31, 2020. This means that beginning January 1, federal law will no longer require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure. However, employers that continue to provide paid leave may still claim FFCRA tax credits until March 31, 2021.
Paid Leave Obligations for California Dealers After the FFCRA Expires. (Updated December 23, 2020) Although there will not be a federal requirement for employers to provide paid sick leave beginning January 1, Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations on COVID-19 (adopted on November 30) require most California employers (including dealerships) to provide paid leave to employees that cannot work due to a COVID-19 quarantine. However, this paid leave obligation “does not apply where the employer demonstrates that the COVID-19 exposure is not work related.” (Click here to access the regulations.)
Therefore, if an employee is quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure outside of work, an employer would not have an obligation to pay an employee while the employee is in quarantine. However, if an employee is quarantining due to work related exposure or if it is unclear where an employee contracted COVID-19, and the employee cannot work due to the quarantine, an employer would be required to pay an employee while quarantining.
Dealers should also note that the state of the law on this issue is in flux. There is substantial uncertainty as to whether Cal/OSHA has the legal authority to impose paid leave obligations on employers, and its authority is being actively challenged in the courts. Moreover, it’s very possible that the legislature (or Congress) will address this issue by passing new laws in early 2021. Finally, it is also unclear whether the extension of the tax credit in the FFCRA will extend the operation of AB 1867, which requires California employers with 500 or more employees to provide paid COVID sick leave akin to the FFCRA.
Bottom line: although the FFCRA paid leave mandate will expire on December 31, California dealers with fewer than 500 employees should still provide paid leave to employees quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure, unless they can demonstrate that the exposure was not workplace related. Dealers may still be entitled to the FFCRA tax credit until March 31, 2021.
CNCDA began remote operations on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Since this time, CNCDA staff has been in continuous contact with local and state officials on issues involving coronavirus and your business. Our legal hotline (916-441-2599) continues to operate and staff is fully accessible by phone or email to our members. And we are continuously developing compliance resources (such as this website and member alerts) to help our members during this difficult time.
This website is designed to provide California new motor vehicle dealerships with resources on issues involving the coronavirus (COVID-19). CNCDA will use its best efforts to continue to update this website, but this situation is rapidly evolving. Please also note that the materials on this website are for educational purposes, and are not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, contact competent counsel. For the most current information, please visit government websites for your jurisdiction or call CNCDA at 916-441-2599.
Media contact: Jenny Dudikoff, 916-599-5415