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Gov. Brown Issues Executive Order "Stay Home, Save Lives"

March 23, 2020

By Benjamin P. O'Glasser & Jessica D. Osborne

On March 23, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12 requiring increased restrictions for Oregonians, and requiring the immediate closure for a large swath of Oregon businesses (“Order”).  The Order represents Oregon’s most dramatic step to-date as the State attempts to mitigate the proliferation and spread of COVID-19.

The Order is effective immediately, with extraordinary measures going into place at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, and remaining in effect until terminated by the Governor.

The Order requires increased limitations and closures relating to social gatherings, non-essential businesses, state parks and recreational areas, many state buildings, and additional child care facilities.

Failure to comply with the Order may lead to Class C misdemeanor (30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,250).

We highlight several provisions of the Order below:

Business Closures
Many recreational and retail businesses are ordered to close.  The Order lists dozens of business types whose operations inherently involve close physical contact and/or the congregation of crowds.  The list includes: gyms, fitness studios, hair and beauty establishments, spas, museums, yoga studios, senior activity centers, social and private clubs, and indoor and outdoor malls (with the exception of tenant businesses that are otherwise permitted to operate). The full list is available in the Order.

Businesses that provide groceries, health care, pharmacies, and pet store services are allowed to continue operations at this time.

Additionally, Executive Order 20-07 remains in effect, which allows certain non-grocery food establishments to remain open on a limited basis.  Specifically, restaurants, bars, taverns, brew pubs, wine bars, cafes, food courts, coffee shops, or other establishments that offer food or drink can continue to operate take-out or delivery services only.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has authority to determine if additional business closures are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing state of emergency, subject to the Governor’s approval.

Required Social Distancing for Other Businesses
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on March 24, 2020, all other businesses must implement and require social distancing, with the exception of grocery retailers, health care providers, medical and pharmacy services, although compliance by those establishments is encouraged. 

Work-at-Home Requirements
Effective Wednesday, March 25, 2020, all businesses and non-profits must provide access to telework or other work-at-home options for all employees to the fullest extent possible. The fullest extent possible is based on the availability of telework and work-at-home options, in light of position duties, access to technological equipment necessary to telework, and availability of adequate networks.

Businesses that continue to have employees report to work must designate an individual employee or officer within the business to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies, consistent with the OHA’s issued guidance for social distancing.  Any business that is found not complying with this Order will be subject to closure until they demonstrate compliance

Practicalities and Implementation
Many businesses are subject to mandatory closure, and more may be subject to closure in the future.  Any business that is permitted to operate must take the following steps immediately:

1) Evaluate your organization’s options for telework.  Employees must be allowed to work from home to the extent possible. 

2) If teleworking is not possible for some or all employees, adopt clear procedures for your workplace.  Designate an employee or officer to establish, implement, and enforce policies for all within the work space (including business-critical visitors) that are in compliance with OHA’s social distancing guidelines.

Failure to comply with the Order can lead to closures and possibly criminal penalties.

We are closely monitoring changes employers are facing in relation to COVID-19. For further information, contact any member of our COVID-19 team which includes Kathryn HindmanMaryann YelnoskyFrancis BarnwellKent Pearson (Labor Law), and Kara Backus (Employee Benefits).

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