Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Thursday granting two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to workers in the state’s farming and food delivery industries during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The order will affect farmers, food delivery workers, fast food workers, grocery store workers and others involved in the state’s food supply chain who have continued to work even as the state government and local governments advise residents to stay home during the pandemic.
The order also outlines health and safety standards for the food service industry, such as permitting workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes, or as needed, to ensure proper food safety and workplace sanitation.
Newsom signed the order after discussions with unions representing food service workers as well as the state Legislature’s Latino caucus, which he said brought up the importance of food harvesters and packers to the state’s food supply chain.
“That sector, by definition, is essential to our livelihoods and our capacity to meet just basic needs through this pandemic. And that sector in particular has been hard hit by strife, by challenges in terms of health and safety, by concerns around what is happening within food processing plants and meat packing plants.”
Newsom specifically thanked California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong and United Farm and Commercial Workers Local 770 President John Grant for their efforts to support food service and grocery store workers during the pandemic.
“They’ve worked across differences, they’ve worked together in a collaborative spirit to address the needs of some of the largest grocery store chains in America that happen to be here in the state of California.”
Health officials around the state have confirmed a total of 26,182 coronavirus cases, including 890 deaths, according to Newsom. In addition, 1,191 people are in intensive care due to the virus and 3,141 are currently hospitalized across the state.