Advocacy, Advocacy Issues, COVID-19, Relevance|

Covid19-Governor’s Stay Home Executive Order – What does it mean for constructionGovernor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on Thursday, March 19, ordering Californians to stay home with a few exceptions, such as leaving home for food, medicine or groceries, or to exercise.

Several types of business are exempt from this order, meaning their employees are allowed to leave their homes to go to work.  These types of businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, and laundromats.

Importantly, Governor Newsom includes construction as an exempt sector.

The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction. [emphasis added]


However — and this is a big however — many local jurisdictions have issued their own Stay Home health directives that do not provide an exemption for construction.  Information available at this time suggests any stricter provisions in local orders need to be followed, even when they conflict with the state order; the governor and local leaders are trying to address those conflicts and new directives can be released at any time.

Additionally, while “construction workers” are explicitly exempt in the state order, it does not address architectural work, whether performed in the office or on the construction site.  Information released by the governor does suggest that work performed by architects, whether in the office or on the construction site, in support of construction is allowed (subject to any local order).  That information reads:

Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)

Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, construction material sources, and essential operation of construction sites and construction projects (including those that support such projects to ensure the availability of needed facilities, transportation, energy and communications; and support to ensure the effective removal, storage, and disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste)


AIA CA continues to monitor developments of how the state and local orders impact the architectural profession, and will provides updates when needed.

Mark Christian, Hon. AIA CA
Mark Christian, Hon. AIA CA
Mark Christian, Hon. AIA CA, is the Director of Government Relations for the AIA California, a position he has held since 1999. In this position, Mark is responsible for monitoring the California State Legislature, identifying bills of interest to the profession, developing and implementing strategies for the positive outcome of legislation of interest to the profession, and representing the profession before the legislature.

2 Replies to “Governor’s Stay Home Executive Order – What does it mean for construction?”

  1. Justin says:

    Just out of curiosity….is nobody at the AIA connected enough to simply call the State and get clarification on this matter? There are legal ramifications for firms and it seems like the AIAC should be able to provide us with more information than is contained in the above article. The order has been in effect for 6 days now.

    • AIA California says:

      AIA CA and many, many others have asked for clarification. If any response is given, it is along the lines of “read what has been issued and use common sense in following the spirit of the order: reduce contact between people.”

      So, for architecture, this should be followed.

      Architecture itself is not exempt from the state order (it, by itself, is not considered essential.)

      Architecture, in support of construction, whether that support is offered on the construction site or from the office (e.g. responding to RFIs) is allowed.

      Any local stay at home order that is more restrictive than the state order should be followed; local orders appear to have supremacy over the state order.

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