The Revised Risk Reduction Officer, issued October 5, 2020, brings the County more closely in line with the State by loosening some restrictions, but it still imposes strict across-the-board risk reduction measures on activities and businesses. Most businesses are now allowed to open, but they must follow specific rules designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and keep both workers and customers safe.
Requirements for Operating
Requirements for All Businesses (PDF)
Under the State and County Health Officers’ Orders, businesses that are allowed to be open must comply with significant requirements designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Here are the requirements that apply to all businesses in the community:
Social Distancing: All businesses must require employees and customers to wear face coverings in accordance with State face covering requirements, maintain at least 6 feet from others at all times, and provide hand washing/sanitizing supplies to customers and staff.
Capacity limitations: Some businesses are subject to COVID-19-related capacity limitations and must limit the number of people inside their facilities to a certain percentage of their usual maximum occupancy. Visit www.sccgov.org/covidcapacity to learn whether your business is subject to specific COVID-19-related capacity limitations.
Telework: All workers who can do their jobs from home are required to work remotely.
Industry-Specific Directives: Businesses must follow any industry-specific guidance from the State.
Reporting COVID-19 Cases to Public Health: Businesses must alert the Public Health Department if workers test positive for COVID-19, and ensure workers alert their employers if they were at work while infectious.
Submit a Social Distancing Protocol to the County: All businesses must complete and submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol, which will be publicly available through the County’s website, within 14 days of the effective date of the October 5 Order. Businesses must submit a Revised Social Distancing Protocol even if they previously submitted an original Social Distancing Protocol under the July 2 Health Officer Order.
What Does the Revised Social Distancing Protocol Require?
- Complete and submit online at www.COVID19Prepared.org, and sign under penalty of perjury.
- Post signs to keep workers and customers informed of social distancing, face covering, and hygiene requirements.
- Train workers on how to be safe at work.
- Direct sick workers to stay home, and screen all workers for symptoms.
- Make soap and water or hand sanitizer available for cleaning hands.
- Thoroughly and regularly clean facilities.
- Maintain social distancing and comply with all capacity restrictions.
- Have a plan if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
REMEMBER: In addition to the County Health Officer Order, businesses must comply with the State’s Stay-at-Home Order. The more restrictive Order applies. Business owners that are allowed to open under the County Order should confirm that they are also allowed to open under the State Order.
Mandatory Health Officer Directives
All business must comply with the most updated versions of the County Health Officer’s Mandatory Directives:
- UPDATED Capacity Limitations - (PDF): | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
- NEW Case Reporting By K-12 Schools, Youth Athletic Programs, and Other Youth Programs - (PDF): | English | Chinese | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tagalog |
All Businesses Must Maximize Remote Work
Under the County Health Officer’s October 5 Revised Risk Reduction Order, Businesses that are allowed to operate facilities in the County must maximize remote work. All employees who can work from home must do so. The only employees who can go to work are those who cannot perform their job duties from home and: (1) must work onsite to carry out an essential business function or an essential governmental function; (2) must work onsite to operate an allowable outdoor business or additional business; or (3) are needed to maintain the minimum basic operations described in the Order for components of the business that are not allowed to fully resume operations. If an employee must come into work for some job functions, but can perform other job functions remotely, that employee must work from home to carry out the job functions that can be performed remotely.
Maximize Outdoor Operations
While not mandatory, the Health Officer strongly recommends that all businesses move as many operations outdoors as possible. Outdoor activities present a much lower risk of COVID-19 transmission because there is better airflow and usually more room to spread out outdoors.
Prepare a Revised Social Distancing Protocol
Please visit www.COVID19Prepared.org for detailed instructions on how to prepare, submit, and implement your Revised Social Distancing Protocol.
Download and Post Signage
You can download flyers and posters about the Public Health Order to inform employees and customers about preventing the spread of COVID-19. Please see here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides print resources with information about COVID-19. Please see here.
Guidance for Safe Operation
Businesses in Santa Clara County are responsible for taking steps to protect the health of their workers and customers by minimizing close contact between people and maintaining a clean and sanitary work environment. In addition to the requirements named in the Order and explained on the Requirements for Operating webpage, the County Health Officer strongly recommends adoption of the following practices for safe operation.
Under the Health Officer Order, employers are legally required to submit information about confirmed positive case(s) and close contacts within four hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). Follow instructions as outlined in the “What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19” section. This information is also available as a downloadable PDF.
What happens to case information after it is submitted to the County:
The Public Health Department uses reported case and contact information to track COVID-19 with the County and to reach out to identified close contacts to ensure they are following quarantine and testing recommendations. In addition, the Public Health Department reviews data to detect clusters at worksites in the County to determine if additional testing and/or Public Health Department support is appropriate. Timely and complete reporting of cases and close contacts is legally required and is essential to protecting you, your workers, and the public from COVID-19.
Furthermore, state law, AB 685, requires that employers report outbreaks of COVID-19 to local health departments. This law specifies the type of data that must be reported. Local health departments then report those data to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). This law requires CDPH to post information about workplace outbreaks by industry on their website which can be accessed at this link COVID-19 Outbreak Data.
Employee breakroom guidance (updated March 2, 2021)
Eating indoors in a breakroom is one of the highest risk activities during this pandemic because breakrooms are usually small with poor ventilation, and face coverings must be removed in order to eat. The use of employee breakrooms has proven to be one of the most common causes of workplace COVID-19 transmission, and eating inside with another person is not safe at this time.
Therefore, the Health Officer strongly recommends that all indoor breakrooms in workplaces remain closed except to use appliances such as coffee makers, refrigerators, or microwaves, or for employees to use alone for other needs provided by law such as lactation. The Health Officer discourages eating, drinking, resting, or gathering in indoor breakrooms. With breakrooms closed, employees should preferably be required to eat outside or alone in their vehicles; if those options are not possible, then they should eat alone at their own desk/workspaces. Employers are strongly encouraged to take steps to encourage these safety measures (for example, by staggering break times and/or setting up outdoor areas where employees can eat and stay at least six feet apart from one another). If employees want to eat with coworkers, they should do so only outdoors and distanced more than six feet apart from each other. Eating alone is still the safest.
What to Do if There is a Suspected COVID-19 Case at the Worksite
Step 1: Exclude the Worker from the Worksite
Ensure that workers with COVID-19 symptoms do not come to the worksite or are sent home immediately if they develop COVID-19 symptoms while at the worksite. The guidance below also applies to workers who have been vaccinated but are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
If, upon arrival at the worksite or at any time during the workday, a worker appears to have any of the following symptoms, the worker should be immediately separated from others and sent home:
- Fever (subjective or measured)
- persistent cough;
- shortness of breath;
- sore throat;
- unusual and significant tiredness, muscle or body aches, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste or smell.
A worker who is working remotely should report experiencing any of these symptoms to his or her supervisor immediately if the worker has been at the worksite within 48 hours of first experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
You may assess and discuss with the worker whether remote work is appropriate while he or she is at home.
Employees are no longer considered contagious if they meet the criteria detailed in this Return to Work letter. The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note or a negative test to return to work as long as the criteria detailed are met.
Step 2: Instruct the worker to get tested for COVID-19
Instruct the worker to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible through the worker’s healthcare provider and to seek medical advice. Symptomatic individuals should not seek testing at a County pop-up testing site.
- If the worker tests negative for COVID-19, the worker should remain at home until at least 24 hours after resolution of fever (if any) and improvement in other symptoms.
If the worker tests positive for COVID-19, the worker must notify his or her supervisor immediately. Follow the instructions in the downloadable PDF, which provides step-by-step guidance for “What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19.” Note that employers are legally required to report positive cases to the County Public Health Department at www.sccsafeworkplace.org within 4 hours of learning of the case.
What to Do When Someone at the Workplace Tests Positive for COVID-19
This step-by-step protocol explains legal obligations and provides additional guidance to employers when one or more people at the workplace test positive for COVID-19. This protocol applies to employees as well as volunteers, contractors, or other people who work at the facility. In addition to this protocol, employers must comply with all applicable state and federal laws and any collective bargaining obligations.
When to Use this Protocol
If the person diagnosed with COVID-19 ever had symptoms, use this protocol if they were symptomatic while at work or developed symptoms within 48 hours of being at work.
If the person diagnosed with COVID-19 never had symptoms, use this protocol if they tested positive within 48 hours of being at work.
Note: This protocol is triggered as soon as you learn that a person at your workplace has received a positive test result on a COVID-19 diagnostic test. You may not avoid the requirement to implement this protocol by re-testing the person, even if the results of one or more re-tests are negative. The County Health Officer does not recommend repeated testing to confirm a positive test result due to the low likelihood of a false positive on the initial test.
Step 1: Provide instructions to the COVID-19-positive worker
Work Exclusion & Isolation Period
Non-high-risk, non-congregate settings: The worker must be sent home immediately and instructed to isolate for 10 days from the date they tested positive AND, if symptomatic, 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in any other symptoms; (whichever is longer). The individual may return to the worksite only after both of these criteria are met.
Employers can also use this Quarantine and Isolation Calculator* to confirm when the employee can leave isolation and return to work. Please make sure to select either the “You have tested positive and have symptoms” OR “You have tested positive but have no symptoms,” depending on whether the employee has symptoms or not.)
*Please note, this calculator is the property of San Bernardino County. Santa Clara County does not control the information contained in this third party application, and is not responsible for its use or misuse. Please consult current county guidance when using this application.
Employees are no longer considered contagious if they meet the criteria detailed in this Return to Work letter. The County of Santa Clara discourages employers from requiring a medical note or a negative test to return to work as long as the criteria detailed are met.
Step 2: Identify all close contacts to the COVID-19-positive worker
If an employer learns that an employee has tested positive, the employer must try to determine which, if any, employees had close contact with the positive employee. A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes at any time beginning 2 days before the infected person had symptoms or tested positive. Close contacts include people who had 15 minutes of continuous contact with the infected person, as well as people who had repeated short-duration interactions with the infected person. In addition, being considered a close contact does not depend on whether the contact or the infected person was wearing a face covering during their interaction.
Employers should keep employees’ medical information confidential in accordance with federal and state laws. Do not disclose the identity of the COVID-19 positive worker in your effort to identify close contacts. Please consult with your attorney if you have any questions about applicable employment or privacy laws.
Identify Close Contacts During the Exposure Period
The employer must investigate and document the employee’s schedule and work location to determine: 1) the day their symptoms began (if applicable); 2) the date of their first positive test; and 3) the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was present at the workplace.
This information must then be used by the employer to identify all individuals who may have had close contact with the confirmed-positive employee during the exposure period.
The exposure period is defined as:
- Start: 2 days before the person had symptoms (or 2 days before date of first positive test for employees who are asymptomatic)
- End: last day the positive person was at work
Being “exposed” does not depend on whether the person exposed or the infected person was wearing a face covering during their interaction.
Complete the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Form
The employer must gather the following information for all people who have been identified as close contacts (to be provided to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department), including any vendors/suppliers, visitors, or others who had close contact with the employee at the worksite:
- Phone number
- Language spoken (if not fluent in English)
Employers may also consider instituting a policy informing employees that if they are confirmed to have COVID-19, they will be requested to provide a list of other employees with whom they had close contact during the exposure period.
Step 3: Communicate with All Employees
Work Exclusion, Quarantine & Testing for Close Contacts
NEW Vaccinated persons* with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Are fully vaccinated (this means 2 or more weeks have passed after having received the second dose in a 2-dose vaccine series, or 2 or more weeks have passed after having received one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
- Do not have symptoms of COVID-19 since the current exposure (if a person has COVID-19 symptoms, isolate and get tested immediately).
- Are not an inpatient or resident in a healthcare setting or facility
Anyone who does not meet ALL of the above criteria should continue to follow the general quarantine guidance below.
Anyone who had close contact with the person diagnosed with COVID-19 during the exposure period (defined above) must be prohibited from entering the worksite and must be instructed to stay at home for 10 days, starting the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work.
All close contacts are recommended to be tested on Day 6 or later from last exposure if asymptomatic (and immediately if symptomatic). COVID-19 testing locations can be found on our website. Asymptomatic close contacts may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from last exposure but should continue monitoring for symptoms for a full 14 days. Even if the test is negative, close contacts should remain in quarantine for the full 10 days. Test results, positive or negative, should be shared with the employer.
Employers can also use this Quarantine and Isolation Calculator to confirm when the employee can leave quarantine and return to work. Please make sure to select the option for “You have been identified as a close contact.”
The general quarantine guidance above applies to healthcare workers under normal circumstances, and healthcare workers who have routine workplace exposures that are not high risk should continue to follow their employer’s guidance for returning to work. However, if critical staffing shortages exist, healthcare workers may follow the recommendations outlined in the COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance for Healthcare Workers During Critical Staffing Shortages.
General Advisory & Symptom Monitoring for All Other Employees
All others present at the workplace, but NOT identified as close contacts, should be advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the last day that the person diagnosed with COVID-19 was at work. This includes individuals who have been vaccinated. They may continue to work, but if they develop symptoms, they must stay home (or if at work, must be sent home immediately) and should contact their health care provider to get testing. Everyone at the worksite must follow the business’s Social Distancing Protocol.
If the workplace is a “High-Risk Setting,” one where workers are at a high risk for exposure to COVID-19 due to frequent face-to-face interaction with members of the public and inability to maintain physical distancing at work, workers should get tested at least every 30 days. These “High-Risk Setting” workers include, but are not limited to, first responders, pharmacy employees, food service workers, delivery workers, public transportation operators, and grocery store clerks.
Step 4: Report Case(s) to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department
If a positive case is identified at your worksite, you must complete the worksite case and contact reporting form on the Worksite Case and Contact Reporting Portal. Under the Health Officer Order, reports must, as a matter of law, be made within four hours after the employer learns of the positive case(s). The information provided will remain confidential and does not affect immigration status. You may update the information you provide if you discover additional information after your initial report.
Note: Your legal obligation to report to the Public Health Department is triggered as soon as you learn that a person at your workplace has received a positive test result on a COVID-19 diagnostic test. You may not avoid the requirement to report the positive person by re-testing them, even if the results of one or more re-tests are negative. The County Health Officer does not recommend repeated testing to confirm a positive test result due to the low likelihood of a false positive on the initial test.
Step 5: Report Any Hospitalizations or Deaths to the Local Cal/OSHA District Office
Any serious injury, illness, or death occurring in any place of employment or in connection with any employment must be reported by the employer to the local Cal/OSHA district office immediately. For COVID-19, this includes hospitalizations and deaths among employees, even if work-relatedness is uncertain.
- Full details on what information needs to be reported (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/report-accident-or-injury.html), contact information for district offices (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/districtoffices.htm), and the Title 8 section 342 requirement (https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/342.html) are available online.
- Cal/OSHA prefers calls by phone but will also accept email reports ([email protected]).
Step 6: Disinfection After a Confirmed COVID-19 Case at the Workplace
Until cleaning and disinfection are completed, close off areas visited by the ill person(s) if the person visited those areas within the last 48 hours. If safe, open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Using an EPA-certified cleaning agent, clean and disinfect all areas used by the ill person(s), including offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment (like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines), focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch areas throughout the day, following CDC guidelines. Clean visibly dirty surfaces and objects using soap and water prior to disinfection. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant product, and follow the instructions on the label for proper use, additional PPE needs, and any other special considerations when using the product.
Step 7: Preventing Workplace COVID-19 Transmission
Strictly Enforce Face Covering Use
Face coverings are mandated in the State of California (CDPH, 2020). All persons must be instructed to wear their face covering at all times in accordance with State requirements.
Face coverings are not required for workers while eating or drinking, for workers with a medical condition that prevents wearing a face covering, for communication by or with a person who is hearing impaired, or when the face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
As Appropriate, Restructure the Workplace to Better Support Social Distancing Measures
Reconfigure, restrict, or close common areas to maintain social distancing. Minimum required social distancing measures are identified in the Social Distancing Protocol.
Some basic, preliminary social distancing measures include the following:
- Maximize remote work, based on business functions. Under the Order, businesses must require all workers to work from home if they are able to perform their employer-assigned work duties from home.
- For those who must remain at the workplace, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from everyone outside your household.
- For all indoor spaces open to the public, comply with any capacity limitations currently in place. Review the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and any applicable State industry guidance to determine whether a capacity limitation applies to your facility. Review the County’s Mandatory Direction of Capacity Limitations, which clarifies implementation of the State’s capacity limitations and includes signage requirements.
- Space desks and workspaces at least six feet apart. Arrange desks and workspaces so they face the same direction rather than facing each other.
- Sanitize any shared desk/work areas between each shift.
- Minimize and avoid use of common areas (such as conference rooms, cafeterias, and break rooms).
- Instead, encourage individuals to eat meals outside, alone in their vehicle, or alone at their desks.
- If such common areas are used, place additional limitations on the number of workers in enclosed areas to ensure at least six feet of separation between everyone in the area.
- Stagger personnel breaks, in compliance with wage and hour regulations, to maintain adequate social distancing.
- Minimize or prohibit in-person meetings, and opt for virtual meetings in accordance with current public health order restrictions.
Actively Encourage Adherence to Hygiene Measures
Actively encourage all individuals to increase hygiene measures (hand washing, avoiding contact with eyes/nose/mouth, covering coughs and sneezes), and provide frequent breaks for hand washing. Provide tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes that can be easily accessed throughout the facility. Employers must ensure that hand sanitizer dispensers and handwashing facilities are always operational and stocked.
Print out and post educational materials throughout the workplace. Printable materials are available at: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/learn-what-to-do-flyers.aspx
Implement Routine Cleaning Measures
- See the CDC guidance “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility” for specific guidance in cleaning and disinfecting indoor and outdoor areas.
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- All workers must wash hands regularly and be provided with frequent handwashing breaks.
- Ensure that routine disinfection is conducted using one of the following:
- EPA-registered household disinfectant, per manufacturer’s recommendations;
- Alcohol solution with at least 60% alcohol; or
- Diluted household bleach solutions (if appropriate for the surface)
- Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch items (door handles, handrails, light switches, telephones, keyboards, etc.) throughout the day.
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks, other work tools and equipment) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
Ensure Strict Adherence to Social Distancing Protocol and Industry-Specific Directives
All businesses are required to complete and implement a Social Distancing Protocol and submit it to the County using the online form.
Periodically revisit your facilities’ Protocol to determine whether any measures should be updated to enhance workplace safety. Ensure that all personnel are properly trained on the Protocol and that the Protocol measures are being strictly implemented and followed.
Guidance for Ventilation and Air Filtration Systems (COVID-19) (PDF)
Why is it Important to Ventilate Indoor Spaces?
Shared indoor spaces significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Current scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 is mainly spread through large respiratory droplets as well as tiny exhaled particles called aerosols, which can linger in indoor spaces for long periods of time, particularly if the spaces are enclosed and poorly ventilated. The risk of COVID-19 transmission also increases significantly when people remove their face coverings (including when eating or drinking), and it increases with every person from a separate household who shares the same indoor area.
It is always safest to avoid gathering with individuals outside one’s household. And locating activities outdoors—where wind and sunlight can disperse particles and inactivate the virus—is safer than indoors, particularly if the activity requires the removal of face coverings.
If activities must take place in shared indoor spaces, managing the indoor air won’t eliminate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but it can significantly reduce it, particularly when combined with other safety precautions (like use of face coverings, limits on the number of people in the space, and vigilant social distancing). As stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its scientific brief on airborne transmission of coronavirus, “ventilation and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces are especially relevant for enclosed spaces, where circumstances can increase the concentration of suspended small droplets and particles carrying infectious virus.”
In general, the more people you have in an indoor environment, the greater the need for increasing the circulation of fresh, outdoor air to dilute airborne particles. Provide fresh air to the areas of your buildings with the highest number of occupants. In areas where you are unable to increase outdoor air, reduce the number of people even further, space people greater than six feet apart, and take other measures to improve ventilation and air filtration.
Who Should Follow This Guidance?
This guidance is intended to assist a wide variety of businesses, offices, schools, restaurants, faith-based organizations, and other non-healthcare industries in identifying general steps to improve ventilation in indoor spaces and reduce the risk of transmission. Healthcare facilities should follow their Infection Prevention and Control Plan and other healthcare-specific requirements.
What Steps Should My Facility Take to Improve Ventilation and Air Filtration?
Take the following steps to improve the quality of indoor air in your facility and reduce the potential for long-range, airborne coronavirus transmission:
- Require Face Covering Use – Face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in an indoor environment by as much as 50%. Face coverings must be worn by almost everyone most of the time when in shared indoor spaces. Good ventilation and air filtration is especially important for indoor facilities like restaurants, where face coverings must be temporarily removed to engage in activities like eating and drinking. Note that face shields have not been shown to protect against aerosols and are not a substitute for face coverings. Face shields may be used in addition to face coverings, but not in lieu of them.
- Increase Outdoor Air Exchange – Increasing outdoor air circulation is one of the simplest ways to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, so long as doing so doesn’t pose a greater safety or health risk to anybody using the facility.
- Open doors and windows to increase fresh air circulation when environmental, building, and safety conditions allow. Consider modifications to your facility to make opening doors and windows safe and feasible: like replacing non-opening windows with ones that easily open or installing mesh screens or grates. If your building also has a mechanical ventilation system, be sure to evaluate the impact of open windows/doors in accordance with step #3 below.
- Consider using portable fans to maximize the effectiveness of open windows and doors. However, if doing so, be careful to position fans to point away from occupants and to avoid blowing air from one person to another (which may spread the virus). Instead, position fans near doors and windows and use them to draw or blow air from the inside of the facility to the outside, instead of blowing air inside. Create an airflow plan to maximize the movement of indoor air to the outside.
- Upgrade Existing Mechanical Ventilation System - If your facility has an existing Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, have it evaluated by an experienced HVAC professional to make sure it is functioning properly and to consider feasible and appropriate upgrades. Upgrades may increase circulation of outside air and also remove presence of aerosols through filtration. Consider upgrading the efficiency of your system’s mechanical filter to the highest efficiency compatible with the air handling system and currently installed filter rack; ideally, filter efficiency should be MERV 13 or greater. Be sure to regularly inspect air handling systems and filters to ensure they are properly operating, and filters are appropriately installed, serviced and within service life. Consider adopting these additional ventilation and air filtration protocols as appropriate to your system:
- Increase the percentage of outdoor air through the HVAC system, readjusting or overriding recirculation (“economizer”) dampers.
- Try to keep the humidity between 40% and 60%.
- Run air handling systems for longer hours, including before and after the space is occupied.
- Seal edges of the filter to limit bypass.
- Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy, and maintain systems that increase fresh air supply.
- Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
- Ensure ongoing, routine maintenance of the HVAC system in all areas, but especially smaller rooms with exhaust fans, such as restrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
- Monitor the effectiveness of the system by measuring ventilation directly, when possible. Building owners/operators can review specific components such as air flow rates (outdoor air vs. recirculated air) and the pressure differences between higher risk areas (e.g., bathrooms and dining areas) and other areas.
For further detail, see the October 5, 2020 Guidance for Re-Opening Buildings by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
- Install Portable Air Cleaners – A variety of portable air cleaners, commonly called HEPA filters, can be purchased and used in indoor spaces to increase the removal of small airborne particles. Consider using these filters where there is no or poor outdoor ventilation, no HVAC system, or when upgrades to the HVAC system are not feasible. These come with a range of sizes, features and prices. It is recommended to purchase units which are certified for ozone emissions and electrical safety by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and to avoid ozone-producing air cleaners. Also ensure the unit is appropriately sized for the room it is used in, using methods such as the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR).
- Additional Considerations
- Locate indoor activities in large rooms that have high ceilings, creating more space for exhaled particles to disperse. Control the number of people entering the room.
- Set ceiling fans to pull air upward, rather than pushing it downward toward room occupants.
- Consider, where appropriate, installing appropriately designed and deployed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to deactivate airborne virus particles.
- Note that ventilation and air filtration measures also apply to enclosed tents set up for events or businesses. Open tent sides as much as possible to increase outdoor air exchange, and note that tents with two or more closed sides qualify as indoor spaces under the County’s Health Officer Order.
- Ventilation Flyer
Ventilation and COVID-19 (PDF)
Consult an HVAC Professional
The information in this guidance is for general audiences who may have questions about air quality in buildings and mitigation measures to reduce risk of airborne coronavirus transmission. Many buildings have complex HVAC systems, and it is important to work with an HVAC professional to evaluate your building’s ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning system and consider the upgrades and improvements that are appropriate to your system and space.
United States Centers for Disease Control:
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):
United States Environmental Protection Agency:
World Health Organization:
Additional State and Federal Guidance
The following government agencies have developed guidance to help with planning efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of California
The Division of Occupational Safety and Health - Cal OSHA
- Agricultural Employers and Employees COVID-19 Infection Prevention
- Agricultural Employers COVID-19 General Checklist
- Infection Prevention in Child Care Programs
- Infection Prevention in Construction
- Grocery Employers General Checklist
- Infection Prevention in Grocery Stores
- Infection Prevention for Logistics Employers and Employees
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19
- Prepare your Small Business and Employees for the Effects of COVID-19
- Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds
- Guidance for Direct Service Providers
Assistance and Resources
Assistance and resources for funding and support for business that are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.
Financing and Resources for Small Businesses
- On the SBA website, there is information about several temporary relief programs to support small businesses that were established by the CARES Act and subsequent legislation.
- The Northern California Small Business Development Center can help small businesses navigate resources and answer business questions.
- Learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Further information on the Paycheck Protection Program is available from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- California IBank has low-interest and state-guaranteed business loans and microloans for small business borrowers who have been impacted by regional disasters and who need term loans or lines of credit for working capital.
- The California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) for Small Business encourages banks and other financial institutions to make loans to small businesses that have difficulty obtaining financing. If you own a small business and need a loan for start-up, expansion, or working capital, you may receive more favorable loan terms from a lender if your loan is enrolled in the CalCAP Loan Loss Reserve Program. A list of participating lending institutions is available here.
- The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) offers resource information on financial and technical assistance for small businesses throughout California.
- Employee Retention Credit: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.
- The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship created this Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act to help small business owners navigate the resources introduced by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Employers who have difficulty locating and purchasing non-medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their workers may utilize Safely Making California, a partnership between the State, the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and Autodesk. Safely Making California helps connect employers to manufacturers of non-medical grade PPE.
- A partnership between the California Manufacturers & Technology Association (CMTA), Autodesk, and the State of California has created the "Safely Making California” Marketplace to help fill a critical gap for all sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will connect CMTA member manufacturers and other manufacturers to employers who have the need to purchase non-medical grade Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Sales and Use Tax Liability (State of California) - Extensions and Relief for Small Business Taxpayers
Effective April 2, 2020, small business taxpayers (those with less than $5 million in taxable annual sales) can take advantage of a 12-month, interest-free payment plan for up to $50,000 of sales and use tax liability. See here for details. Payment plan requests can be made through the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s online services system. Questions about this program may be directed to the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (1-800-400-7115; California Relay Service: 711).
- The Labor & Workforce Development Agency has compiled a centralized source of information on topics such as paid sick leave, disability and unemployment insurance, workplace health and safety guidance, and employer assistance. Use the guidance on their website to determine what is best for you, your family, and your workplace.
- The California Labor Commissioner’s Office (en español) lists answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding employee leave options, compensation, and salary.
- The Employment Development Department (EDD) (en español) provides a variety of resources for employers who anticipate a reduction of work hours, or potential closure or layoffs as a result of COVID-19. Employers experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19 may also request up to a 60-day extension from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center at (888) 745-3886 (TTY: 1-800-547-9565).
- The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has compiled information regarding workplace safety and health requirements that California employers must take to protect workers from COVID-19 at the workplace.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance regarding ADA compliance, medical exams, confidential medical information, anti-discrimination laws, and other employment matters related to COVID-19. Businesses should work with legal counsel to address employment law questions as the County cannot provide legal advice regarding employment matters related to COVID-19 in the workplace.
- The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has also provided COVID-19 guidance and resources for employers and housing providers.
Guidance for Workers
For people allowed to perform work outside their homes during the shelter in place order, we offer the following tips on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) for you and your family.
When Going to Work:
- Riding alone in a private vehicle is the safest way to travel.
- We know this is not possible for everyone. If you go to work with others in the same car, wear a face covering over your mouth and nose. (See the "Face Coverings" FAQs for more information about what kinds of face covers are safe to wear.) Keep the car windows open whenever possible.
- If you go to work on public transportation, you must wear a face covering while waiting for and riding the bus or train. For more guidance on public transportation requirement, see VTA or Caltrain.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- If possible, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use after touching surfaces such as ticket machines, handrails, and doors.
When at Work:
- Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get to work and as often as possible during your shift. Wash for at least 20 seconds. If handwashing facilities are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
- Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose while at work. This is required.
- Help ensure your workplace is following the Social Distancing Protocol and other requirements. If your employer is not complying with business requirements to operate or the Social Distancing Protocol, call the County of Santa Clara Office of Labor Standards Enforcement at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccCOVIDconcerns.org to report any deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements.
- Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer as soon as you get home.
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, then throw out the used tissue.
- Avoid sharing personal items like drinking glasses, eating utensils, and towels with other people.
- Periodically clean high-touch surfaces including phones, keyboards, kitchen countertops, toilets, faucets, and doorknobs. Standard cleaning products are effective against COVID-19.
Make a Plan in Case You Get Sick:
- Plan how you will meet your essential needs if you become sick.
- Keep a supply of non-perishable food, household items, cleaning supplies, and medications on hand so that you can minimize and space out your trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and other locations.
- Determine who will be responsible for activities such as grocery shopping and other essential activities if you become sick. Is there someone in the home who can help? Is there a family or close friend who can drop off groceries to the door?
Employees of Affected Businesses/Unemployment Claims
- The Employment Development Department (en español) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19in California:
- Sick or Quarantined: If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to non-work-related illnesses.
- Caregiving: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for ill or quarantined family members with COVID-19, you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to eight weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member.
- Reduced Work Hours: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own.
- OnwardCA is a private initiative of companies and foundations that serves California workers displaced by COVID-19. OnwardCA provides essential life services (such as money, groceries, or childcare), job training, and job matching.
- The Workers page on the State’s COVID-19 website lists information on unemployment insurance, help for self-employed workers and independent contractors, and more.
- This chart created by the State’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency lists the benefits available to workers affected by COVID-19.
- Multiple fact sheets relating to COVID-19 in the workplace are available on Legal Aid at Work’s website.
Free Support Services:
- For housing support for those that are homeless, call the County's Joint Operations Center at 408-278-6420.
- For those needing support that have been identified as close contact to a positive case or are positive for COVID-19, please call 408-808-7770. Please review all Isolation & Quarantine support services here.
- For food assistance, call Second Harvest Food Bank at 1-800-984-3663.
- If you do not have a regular doctor, please call the Primary Care Access Program at 408-556-6605 to speak to a doctor about your symptoms.
- For information on COVID-19 testing in the County—including who should get tested and where—visit the County Public Health Department website: www.sccgov.org/cv19testing.
- Remember, getting help for COVID-19 will not reduce your chances of obtaining U.S. residency or citizenship. So please, reach out for help if you need it.
- To see if you qualify for a program that can cover a portion of your lost wages due to COVID-19 visit: sccfairworkplace.org or call 1-866-870-7725.
- If your employer is not complying with business requirements to operate or the Social Distancing Protocol, call the County of Santa Clara Office of Labor Standards Enforcement at 1-866-870-7725 or visit www.sccCOVIDconcerns.org to report any deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements.
Guidance for Customers
Customers should keep in mind the following guidance while visiting business facilities:
- Customers must wear face coverings in accordance with State face covering requirements. Note: Face coverings are not required for very young children under the age of two or for people for whom they are otherwise not medically recommended, or for communication by or with someone who is hearing impaired.
- Customers must maintain social distancing of at least six feet from employees and other customers whenever possible.
- Check to make sure the business has posted a COVID-19 PREPARED Sign and a Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information Sheet at each public entrance to the facility.
If a business is not complying with required Social Distancing Protocols, you can report deficiencies in compliance with Protocol requirements at www.scccovidconcerns.org.
For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about customer safety during the coronavirus outbreak, please see here.
What Should Customers See in Every Business? (PDF)
ALL open businesses have to follow the State and the County Health Officer’s rules to make sure their workers and customers stay as safe as possible from COVID-19. Here’s what you should see at every open business in Santa Clara County:
- ALL CUSTOMERS AND WORKERS WEARING FACE COVERINGS
- Employees must wear face coverings (unless it’s unsafe for them or they’re talking to someone who is hearing-impaired).
- Customers over age 2 must wear face coverings too, and the business should turn away customers who aren’t wearing them unless the customer has a medical or disability-related reason not to do so.
- EVERYONE KEEPING AT LEAST 6-FOOT DISTANCE
- A business should never be crowded. Business must limit the number of customers and workers in a facility at any time to make sure everyone can maintain 6 feet of social distance from everyone else.
- You should also see things like tape on the floor marking 6-foot distances for customers standing in line, and chairs and benches blocked off with tape or signs. Employees shouldn’t be crowding together while they work.
- HAND-WASHING OR HAND SANITIZER AVAILABLE FOR CUSTOMERS
- There is hand sanitizer or soap and water available so customers and the business’s employees can keep their hands clean.
- There is hand sanitizer or soap and water available so customers and the business’s employees can keep their hands clean.
- POSTERS EXPLAINING COVID-19 SAFETY RULES
- At the entrance, you should see the COVID-19 PREPARED sign and Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information sheet, which look like this:
- You should also see posters with information about social distancing, face covering, and health and hygiene requirements like these:
- Violations: To report a business that you think is violating these or other requirements related to preventing COVID-19, please visit www.scccovidconcerns.org
File a Complaint About a Violation
If you see a business or organization that might be violating the Order and endangering the public or its employees, you can report it to the County at www.scccovidconcerns.org. Workers, volunteers, and other personnel concerned about their employer violating the Order, you can also contact the County Office of Labor Standards Enforcement Advice Line at 1-866-870-7725 to speak with someone directly about their questions and concerns. Advice Line staff are available to assist community questions and concerns in English, Español, Tiếng Việt, 中文 and Tagalog.
The Public Health Order is a legal order issued under the authority of California law. Learn more about the enforcement of County and State Public Health Orders. Violations of this Order are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
Please review the Frequently Asked Questions page for businesses. If you have additional questions not addressed by the FAQs or would like to provide us with feedback, please reach out to us by either filling out the form below or call the COVID-19 Business Call Center at (408) 961-5500, Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm, for any inquires related to your business or workplace.
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