Safe Reopening Compliance Team Enforcement Criteria

The Public Health Officer is required by law to enforce and observe orders and regulations issued by the California Department of Public Health. Mandatory orders and guidance documents have been issued to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  The County has developed enforcement criteria to ensure fair and consistent application of enforcement actions.

Enforcement Criteria

  • The goal of the Safe Reopening Compliance Team is voluntary compliance.  
  • When a business or entity is identified as possibly operating out of compliance with the COVID-19 legal requirements, it will be subject to enforcement.  This could be through an operational use prohibited under the health order, or not following their Safe Reopening Plan (SRP).  
  • The compliance team utilizes the State and local health orders, as well as the respective industry specific requirements, to evaluate if an operation is in compliance.
  • The business or entity will be notified of how observations indicate they appear to not in compliance with the health order or their SRP.
  • Compliance field investigations are conducted meet with businesses to explore opportunities to modify operations to comply with the health order, gain additional information regarding the operation, and answer questions about the process.
  • If the business or entity is found to be out of compliance, they are provided the opportunity to voluntarily come into compliance.
  • When a violation continues, escalated enforcement may be taken in the form of a cease and desist order, or additional law enforcement actions. 
  • Enforcement is based on compliance with the respective business sector requirements, not based on the size of a company or ownership. 

Rationale of Industry Restrictions

The State has identified the following scientific data on how COVID-19 is spread, and the basis for determining particular industry restrictions, here: 

  • Public health systems expert Dr. Michael Stoto provided a literature review on behalf of the State of California in support of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.  The following body of evidence was provided by the State in support of the causal nexus between tier-specific restrictions and disease prevention outcomes: [LITERATURE REVIEW]   (Declaration of Dr. Michael Stoto regarding the evidentiary basis for the Blueprint is available here: [STOTO DECLARATION 11.18.2020].)
  • James Watt, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases Control of the Center for Infectious Diseases has found that certain activities or settings addressed that have been restricted by the State of California, by their nature pose a higher risk for transmission than activities where physical distancing can generally be maintained.  Declaration of Dr. James Watt, May 29, 2020, available at:  [WATT DECLARATION 5.29.2020]  Dr. Watt has further set forth basis for the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and Regional Stay at Home Order in the Declaration of James Watt, MD, MPH, November 30, 2020 [WATT DECLARATION 11.30.2020]
  • Chang, S., Pierson, E., Koh, P.W. et al. Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening. Nature 589, 82–87 (2021).  (“[O]n average across metro areas, full-service restaurants, gyms, hotels, cafes, religious organizations, and limited-service restaurants produced the largest predicted increases in infections when reopened (ED Figure 5d). Reopening full-service restaurants was particularly risky.”)
  • CDPH Guidance for the Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission for Gatherings, November 13, 2020 (“In general, the more people from different households a person interacts with at a gathering, the closer the physical interaction is, and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk that a person with a COVID-19 infection, symptomatic or asymptomatic, may spread it to others.” “All gatherings pose a higher risk of transmission and spread of COVID-19 when people mix from different households and communities. The likelihood of transmission and spread increases with laughing, singing, loud talking and difficulty maintaining physical distance. Limiting attendance at gatherings is a way to reduce the risk of spread as it lowers the number of different people who are interacting. Additionally, by limiting attendance there is an improved ability to perform effective contact tracing if there is a positive case discovered, which can help to slow the spread of COVID-19.”)  [Citations omitted]. 
  • Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary, press conference, December 8, 2020: CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Provides Update on COVID-19, (“[T]he decision to include, among other sectors, outdoor dining and limiting that, turning to restaurants to deliver and provide takeout options instead, really has to do with the goal of trying to keep people at home.”  “[W]e advise against anything that you can do in another way in a lower risk way that avoids you either leaving your home or only leaving your home in a way that doesn’t expose you and cause you to mix with others.”)

Additional Citations

Furuse Y, Sando E, Tsuchiya N, Miyahara R, Yasuda I, Ko YK, et al. Clusters of Coronavirus Disease in Communities, Japan, January–April 2020. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(9):2176-2179.

Kwon KS, Park JI, Park YJ, Jung DM, Ryu KW, Lee JH. Evidence of Long-Distance Droplet Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by Direct Air Flow in a Restaurant in Korea.  J Korean Med Sci. 2020 Nov;35(46):e415.

Fisher KA, Tenforde MW, Feldstein LR, et al. Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1258–1264. DOI: