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March 18, 2020 - Coronavirus

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update: Evolving Local Orders that Affect Government Contractors

Updated Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines For Employers

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop day by day, and even hour by hour, many jurisdictions are issuing guidance regarding quarantines and work restrictions that may affect the operations of government contractors.  In this blog, we cover updates on the situation in California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

In the San Francisco Bay area, as of the writing of this post, six counties have issued mandatory shelter-in-place orders, with violations enforced as a criminal misdemeanor.  As written, these orders appear to prohibit most federal contractor personnel from reporting to work.  However, Santa Clara County has announced via its shelter-in-place FAQ that if a governmental entity at any level identifies a contractor as necessary for essential government functions, the contractor’s employees may continue to report to work:

My business provides critical services and products for the federal government that we are required to provide on a time-certain basis–can we continue to manufacture these products?

Employees and contractors of any governmental entity may continue to provide the services and products if the governmental entity determines that they are necessary to carry out an essential governmental function.

Other Northern California jurisdictions may follow soon issue similar clarifications.  Consistent with this guidance, federal contractors may want to reach out to their government customers to seek a determination that their work is necessary to carry out an essential government function.

In Orange County, California, public health officials have recently clarified that the county’s previous order is merely guidance and not mandatory, and that businesses other than dine-in restaurants and bars can remain open as long as they comply with social distancing requirements.  An amended order is expected soon.

On March 18, 2020, the State of New  York issued an order directing “each for-profit or not-for profit employer (excluding state and local governments and authorities) shall reduce the in-person workforce at each business/work location by 75% from pre-state of emergency declaration employment levels.”  The order expressly exempts from this restriction essential businesses or entities, including “defense and natural security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government.”

On March 19, 2020, the State of Pennsylvania rescinded its prior non-mandatory advice and issued a mandatory order prohibiting the operation of businesses (unless done by telework) that are not “life sustaining” and directing restaurants and bars to close their dine-in facilities.  The state has made a list of various “life sustaining” and non-“life sustaining” businesses available here.  Some government contractors will fit into the definition of “life sustaining” businesses, but others likely will not.

Keep an eye on MoFo’s Government Contracts Insights blog for the latest updates.