As government at all levels react to COVID-19, it is important to understand the response is a “local up” approach. This means state and federal governments are providing guidance and resources to support cities and counties in their efforts to combat the virus. It is counties and, sometimes, cities which are responsible for direct response and mandates.
We urge each company to monitor direction provided by the counties and cities where you operate. We have attempted to capture local government action, but the situation is evolving rapidly with varying impacts in different regions of the state with constant changes.
CGA is posting all necessary information regarding COVID-19 response on its coronavirus webpage. Please check regularly for updates.
Governor Issues Restaurant and Social-Distancing Directives
Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued directives for statewide social distancing. These new guidelines focus on securing California’s most at-risk groups, altering how restaurants and other social venues operate, and moving the homeless to temporary shelter locations.
In particular, the Governor is advising the home isolation of all Californians 65 or older and those who suffer from chronic conditions. All bars, nightclubs, brewpubs and wineries are to be closed statewide. Restaurants are expected to focus on delivery and pick-up orders to ensure appropriate social distancing between customers.
We expect directives by the Governor to change and be adjusted as the situation progresses. Timely updates to statewide directives are available here.
In-store Dinning Restrictions
Statewide directives and local government orders ask for dining within grocery stores to be treated similar to restaurants. This means a focus on take-out and delivery of orders with no in-store dinning or similar gathering. It is expected this mandate will impact all of California over the next few days.
Events and Accommodations for Customers Over 65 or with Health
Conditions Some retailers across the country and in California are attempting to hold special events for customers over 65 or with existing health conditions. An example is early shopping hours limited to these populations. Grocery stores are highly discouraged from holding these types of events.
While the service to these populations is vital, events of this type directly disregard federal, state and local mandates for these individuals to shelter in-place. In fact, events of this type would not only put these populations at greater risk for contracting the virus, but could be considered an illegal act by the company.
We do encourage grocers to offer other accommodations such as home-delivery or similar access to food and goods which do not encourage vulnerable populations to leave their homes.
Local Government Orders
Several local governments in California have made orders regarding gatherings, essential services and sheltering in-place. While these orders will impact grocery operations in some manner, every order and mandate to date has recognized that grocery stores are essential services and will remain open. Due to the critical role grocery stores serve in society full closures of stores is not expected.
There have been several significant orders in the City and County of Los Angeles and the counties compromising the San Francisco Bay Area. These orders include restrictions on in-store dining, social distancing within stores and removal of trucking curfews. CGA has posted currently available local orders on its webpage.
Trucking Hours of Service
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the issuance of a national emergency declaration that provides “hours of service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The declaration includes allowing transportation of “food for emergency restocking of stores” as one of the qualifiers for hours of service exemptions. It will remain in effect until the emergency declaration is lifted or April 12, 2020, whichever comes sooner.
Please note that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies. The declaration does not allow companies to ignore any existing size and weight restrictions you currently operate under—unless otherwise noted in any state emergency proclamation or notice that says otherwise.
It is also advisable that drivers maintain a copy of the declaration with them as well.
Continuing Response Efforts
CGA is continuing to work with state and local governments to identify and ease regulations which could slow grocery delivery and sales. Areas being discussed including WIC mandates, CRV redemption, carryout bags and food packaging, among others. As we receive clarity, we will update CGA members through email alerts or our weekly newsletter Checkout.