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Handling a Cease and Desist Order for Violating COVID-19 Regulations

As a business owner, you know  how difficult it is to keep up with the changing federal, state, and local COVID-19 regulations. If you are not properly following the government’s rules, you could get a cease and desist order for violating COVID-19 regulations. Here we will review need-to-know information about this type of communication and what you should do next.

Why would my business receive a cease and desist order?

State, county and other local government entities use cease and desist orders to help enforce COVID-19 rules and regulations. If you receive a cease and desist order, it means you likely have been reported as not following certain restrictions.

The cease and desist order is often from a compliance team coordinator and outlines the alleged violations. In San Diego County, California, for example, businesses in violation of mandates that they operate exclusively outdoors may see cease and desist letters issued by a compliance officer.

The cease and desist order will also likely list potential outcomes should your business remain noncompliant. Fines and criminal sanctions are among the possible consequences.

How do authorities determine that my business has violated COVID-19 regulations?

Most violations are based on initial reports from citizens. Some counties have established hotlines to receive reports about  compliance in their jurisdiction. The compliance team may also periodically review business operations throughout a specific county.

For example, in San Diego County, compliance officers will review a business, often without first alerting company representatives, to check for violations. In many situations, you may not know a visit to check for COVID-19 compliance even took place.

How should I respond to a cease and desist order for violating Covid-19 regulations?

Generally, if your business does not comply with local or state regulations, you should make adjustments to operate in compliance. 

In the event you do receive a letter, calling the compliance officer who issued the cease and desist order is a helpful first step if you do not understand the alleged violation. 

You should not ignore a cease and desist letter. You could face significant fines for each violation in some counties. Cease and desist letters in some areas are posted online for the public to review. These can cause bad publicity for your company.

If you stop the alleged violation, you need not formally respond to most cease and desist orders. There are, however, times when you may want to write a response that outlines the steps you took to attain compliance.

For example, if you install certain protections or require new health screening forms, provide a timeline for when you expect protective equipment or new forms to arrive. Keep in mind that you may need to temporarily cease some or all operations while you wait for  safety measures to take effect.

Getting legal help after a cease and desist order

If you are unsure how to handle a cease and desist order, talk to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney to get legal advice that is tailored to your particular situation.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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