California Has Issued Updated Fitness Facility Guidelines

Yesterday, July 1, 2020, the State issued revised guidelines for gyms and fitness facilities. These revised guidelines can be found here.

One of the changes in the revised guidelines is that gym users must wear face coverings at all times while inside indoor fitness facilities. However, if people are exercising outdoors, then face coverings are optional so long as a distance of at least six feet from non-household members can be maintained.

Additionally, face coverings must be worn while at pool areas if maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from non-household members is not feasible, but never while in the pool.

Certain individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering pursuant to California Department of Public Health Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.

 

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

San Diego Small Claims Court Re-Opening

By Jillian M. Wright, Esq. & Dominique M. Morrow

The San Diego courts are reopening however, associations should expect delays, especially in Small Claims Court.

We are informed there are currently no Small Claims Court hearings going forward at this time. The Small Claims Court is tentatively looking into rescheduling the hearings that were set for March (when the court closed), beginning in August and then keep scheduling out from there. As an example, hearings originally set in April 2020 would now be for September 2020 and so on.

Associations can still submit brand new small claims filings but they will be set far out (possibly not until the end of this year) as they will have to be scheduled behind all the rescheduled hearings.

In addition, there are currently no walk-ins at the Small Claims Court business offices so in order to file a small claims complaint associations will have to mail the following items in, to the Clerk of the Small Claims Court:

  • the original signed complaint,
  • a copy of the complaint,
  • a self-addressed envelope, and
  • filing fees.

Our firm is assisting clients with any inquiries they may have regarding the preparation or filing of small claims complaints.

 

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

City of Chula Vista Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol for Businesses

All businesses (including Community Associations) operating in Chula Vista must prepare, distribute, and post a Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol.

The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must be prepared online, distributed to all employees, posted at all entrances to the business, and implemented by the business. A Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must be prepared on the city website and supersedes Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocols required by the County of San Diego.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

Got Emergency Rules? Read this if you want to keep them!

By Gordon A. Walters, Esq.

As we approach the three month mark since Governor Newsom issued the Stay at Home order on March 19, 2020, please remember that any emergency rules that were enacted are only effective for a maximum of 120 days, and may not be readopted under the emergency rules procedures.

If your association adopted emergency rules shortly after the Stay at Home order was issued and you wish to keep those rules in place, you should begin the process of notifying members and scheduling a meeting to adopt the rules.

The Civil Code requires a minimum of 28 days’ notice to members, so you likely will need to begin this process quickly to meet the deadlines.

Our article, Emergency Rules – Discretionary or Not Discretionary? That is the Question from our April 3, 2020 newsletter contains additional information. Should you need further information or assistance with this process, our attorneys are able to assist you upon request.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

COVID-19 Waivers

By Dea C. Franck, Esq.

If your community association is interested in either:

1. Utilizing liability waivers for the users of open (and soon to be reopened) common area facilities to sign, or
2. Posting assumption of risk notices at common area facilities,

…please be aware that there are pros and cons to both options.

We are happy to consult with you regarding both options and on the best way to accomplish this in your particular association. Just let us know.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

June 12th Sector Reopenings

By Dea C. Franck, Esq. & Jacquelyn E. Quinn, Esq.

Starting no sooner than June 12, 2020, and only upon the approval of your county‘s health officer, certain specific amenities in your community may be allowed to reopen. As of the date of this newsletter Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Kern Counties have approved additional reopening.

The State has issued guidelines to reopen fitness facilities (including pools) and outdoor recreational facilities. Community associations should only reopen those amenities specified in the State’s industry guidelines and should follow the applicable State guidelines, CDC guidelines, and any requirements/guidelines issued by your county and city.

  • CDC guidelines can be found here.
  • State guidelines can be found here.
  • San Diego County reopening guidelines can be found here.
  • Riverside County reopening guidelines can be found here and then scroll down to Toolkits and click on the box marked “Business.”
  • San Bernardino County reopening guidelines can be found here.
  • Orange County announced that it will reopen various sectors starting June 12, 2020, but as of the date of this newsletter no updated guidelines from Orange County have been posted. We anticipate that such guidelines will be posted here.
  • Los Angeles County announced that it will reopen various sectors starting June 12, 2020, but as of the date of this newsletter no updated guidelines from Los Angeles County have been posted. We anticipate that such guidelines will be posted here.
  • Kern County reopening guidelines can be found here.

This is a rapidly evolving topic, so boards and community managers should review these various governmental guidelines and talk to your association’s experts regarding implementation of these guidelines, e.g. HVAC professionals, janitorial/cleaning professionals, pool maintenance professionals, and legal counsel.

Additionally, please be aware that stagnant or standing water in a plumbing system may carry a risk of Legionnaires’ disease. Because common area amenities have been shut down, associations need to ensure that the water systems for these facilities are safe to use. You should review the CDC guidelines on this issue and follow the recommendations therein. Those CDC guidelines and training can be found here and here.

Reminder: The guidelines and other regulations change frequently. Be sure to keep up to date by checking the state and county websites on a regular basis and monitoring press alerts for new announcements.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

Re-opening San Diego County

By Jacquelyn E. Quinn, Esq.

Today, San Diego County announced the following are permitted to reopen immediately with restrictions:

The following will be permitted to open Friday, June 12 with restrictions:

Associations must also complete and post a copy of the Safe Re-Opening Plan at the entrance to any reopened facility. Section E of the Safe Re-Opening Plan must be filled in with a description of the precautions your association has implemented to meet the County and State guidelines. Please also review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Guidelines found here.

More San Diego County updates can be found here.

Keywords: Covid-19, Coronavirus

San Diego County Guidance to Prepare for Re-Opening Association Pools When Permitted

By Jacquelyn E. Quinn, Esq.

San Diego County has not yet approved the re-opening of association pools, but the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has issued guidance in preparation for when pools are approved to re-open in Stage 3 of California’s Resilience Roadmap.

The guidelines can be found here: Public Swimming Operations During COVID-19 Guidance. According to the San Diego DEH these guidelines are consistent with the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although, the guidelines could be modified by the California Department of Public Health when the State issues its guidance for re-opening pools.

The guidelines require increased disinfection and social distancing to protect pool facility users. Additionally, when pools are approved to re-open, your association will need to complete and post a copy of the County’s Safe Re-Opening Plan. Section E of the Safe Re-Opening Plan must be filled in with a description of the precautions your association has implemented to meet the measures in the Public Swimming Operations During COVID-19 Guidance.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus

Association Employers: Are You IIPP Compliant in the Age of COVID-19?

By Mandy D. Hexom, Esq.

As association employees return or continue to work, association employers must review its policies and procedures, making sure they are compliant with the CDC, state, and local guidelines for operating businesses with employees during the pandemic. In addition to these policies that you may already be familiar with, it is now time to make sure association employers are compliant with the IIPP requirement.

An IIPP is an Injury Illness Prevention Program required by law for all employers. Because COVID-19 infection is a potential hazard in an association workplace, the association employer must implement infection control measures, including applicable and relevant documentation from the CDC and a written IIPP.

On May 6, 2020, California Governor Newsom signed an executive order that creates a rebuttable presumption that an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 contracted it within the course and scope of employment for purposes of workers compensation if the employee tests positive within 14 days after performing labor or services at the place of employment and at the employer’s direction. This order is scheduled to remain in place until July 5, 2020 as of the date of this article.

Why do we need an IIPP and what is it?

  • An IIPP is required by Labor Code section 6401.7 and 8 CCR section 3203 for all California employers.
  • The purpose of an IIPP is to protect employees from workplace hazards, including infectious diseases. The California Department of Industrial Relations has created an easy tool on how to create an IIPP, which can be found by clicking here.
  • An IIPP must be in writing and be effective.

Now is the time to be proactive and update or create the necessary policies and procedures in the age of COVID-19.

For more information, visit these useful websites:

If your association has questions about an IIPP or other required policies or procedures related to COVID-19, please contact us.

Keywords: Covid-19, Coronavirus

Novel Coronavirus and the Courts

By Rian W. Jones, Esq.

Courts That Were Temporarily Closed Have Now Reopened or Will Reopen Soon
Because of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic and the associated orders issued by the Governor and local government authorities, the Superior Courts in the state have largely been closed since the second week in March. To make sure that no legal rights are lost, the courts have ordered that the period during which they have been closed is deemed to be a Court Holiday for purposes of computing the time for filing papers with the court pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure sections 12 and 12a. This means that, with few exceptions, any deadline for filing a pleading was extended until after the courts reopen.

  • Court Opening Dates:
  • San Diego County Superior Court and Orange County Superior Court reopened on May 26, 2020.
  • Riverside County Superior Court is scheduled to reopen on June 8, 2020.
  • San Bernardino County Superior Court is scheduled to reopen today, May 29, 2020.
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court is scheduled to reopen on June 10, 2020.

Court Closures Have Created a Backlog
The extended closure of the courts has created a huge backlog of cases. Criminal cases will take priority. We are starting to receive notices from the courts regarding the rescheduling of trials and other hearings. Cases that had a trial scheduled during the shutdown are being set for trial in late 2020 or early 2021. All other hearings that were scheduled during the shutdown were summarily canceled and we will have to refile motions and seek a new hearing date. This means that our clients currently involved in litigation will see a delay in the resolution of their cases.

Most Hearings Will Be Held via Telephone or Video Conference for the Time Being
While the courts are reopened or reopening soon, they are reopening with restrictions on personal appearances. Most personal appearances are not allowed and, for the time being, most hearings will be held via conference call or video conference depending on the County. The courts are still working out the details for this.

CourtCall is the approved service that is used to make telephonic appearances in some jurisdictions. There is a fee associated with the use of this service (generally less than $100.00). It is not clear yet whether or not some or all of the counties will provide a free service for telephone or video conference appearances during the restriction on personal appearances. Our clients may see a line item on their monthly billing statement for legal fees for a CourtCall fee. While this is an additional cost of litigation, it is offset by the fact that the attorney does not have to bill time for traveling to and from the courthouse for the hearing. This will likely result in a net savings to the client.

While it is preferable to be physically in the courtroom for a hearing, especially on a motion that is opposed by the other side, the reality of the current situation does not allow for personal appearances just now. Most of the counties anticipate the resumption of jury trials in the 4th quarter of 2020. However, that is subject to review by the presiding judge in consultation with local health officers.

Remote Mediations and Settlement Conferences
Most private mediators are now offering remote mediations as a way to try to resolve cases without a trial. While not all cases are adaptable to this type of Alternative Dispute Resolution, we will make the appropriate recommendation to our clients on a case-by-case basis if we believe that a remote mediation via video conference would be beneficial. Some of the courts are also trying to develop a method of Judicially supervised settlement conferences via video conference.

Adapting to the New Normal
The way we practice litigation has been affected by this pandemic and it is yet to be seen how long these restrictions will last.

The attorneys at Epsten, APC are working for our clients’ best interests and will stay informed of all changes to the rules in every jurisdiction in which we practice. If you have an active litigation matter being handled by our firm, please feel free to reach out to the handling attorney if you have any specific questions regarding you case.

Keywords: Covid-19, Coronavirus