California’s New COVID-19 Policy May Impact Small Businesses

California Announces a Shift in COVID-19 Policy That May Impact Businesses; Inland Counties Legal Services Provides Free Legal Advise to Help Small Businesses.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that California is transitioning to an “endemic phase” of managing COVID-19 reflecting a policy shift of prioritizing prevention and quick response to COVID-19 outbreaks over mask mandates and business shutdowns.

The new policy seems generally favorable for small business owners in the Inland Empire, but it may prompt a new set of challenges to tackle, and here are 5 legal issues a small business may face:

  1. With more in-person interaction, how to keep employees and customers safe?
  2. How to negotiate a commercial lease to expand your physical retail or office space?
  3. What to keep in mind when hiring a new employee who will work in person?
  4. How to pay for business adjustments that are required by law, and are any grants or loans available?
  5. What HR policies regarding COVID-19 should a small business consider having in place?

Have you checked in with an attorney recently, and do you know the answers to these questions as applied to your small business?  If not, it may be time for a legal check-up.  

On the third Wednesday of every month throughout 2022, Inland Counties Legal Services (ICLS) hosts a Small Business Clinic, providing free legal advice for eligible small businesses in the Inland Empire. 

Each business owner will meet one-on-one with an experienced attorney, receive legal information specific to their business, and create an “attack plan” detailing potential legal issues and next steps to take. Our volunteer attorneys advise owners of small businesses at all stages of formation, in all types of industries, and with a variety of legal issues.

  • Do you have a great business idea, but unsure what laws/regulations apply?  Even before your business is up-and-running, it may be a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney who can discuss common legal issues, including how to select an appropriate business entity, how to limit business liability, how to ensure best practices in contracting, and more.
  • Is your small business facing a specific legal problem?  For example, do you have questions about COVID-19 laws and regulations?  Are you planning to negotiate a new commercial lease?  Are you thinking about building out your website and wondering if certain images can be used?  ICLS will match you with an experienced business attorney to discuss your specific legal needs, and we will help you create an “attack plan” detailing potential next steps for you to take.
  • Are you more established, but continuing to wonder if things could be (or should be) done differently?  For example, have you considered whether your business would benefit from changing its corporate structure?  Or from expanding its operations online, or in a different state?  Or maybe it’s time to consider hiring direct employees instead of using independent contractors (or vice versa)?  It might be time for a business check-up, and ICLS can match you with an attorney to discuss potential legal issues that may arise from changes to your business.

ICLS’s next Small Business Clinic will be held virtually on March 16th, 2022, from 1-4:00 pm. 

To check eligibility and apply, please visit (English) or (Español) or call our Intake Team at (888) 245-4257. 

Please be advised that the Clinic has eligibility requirements, including a maximum business revenue and asset threshold.  In addition, space is limited, and pre-registration (by no later than Monday, March 14th) is required.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Matt Kugizaki at (951) 320-7516 or

Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only.  Simply registering for, or attending, the Small Business Clinic does not automatically create an attorney-client relationship with the ICLS or any participating attorneys.

ICLS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and receives federal, state, and local county funding.  Funders are the Legal Services Corporation, State Bar of California Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA), State Bar of California Equal Access Funds, San Bernardino County Department of Aging and Adult Services and Riverside County Office on Aging.  A full list of current funders is available upon request.  See


MATTHEW R. KUGIZAKI, ESQ. | he/him/his

Pro Bono Coordinator |

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The National Latina Business Women Association Inland Empire Institute (NLBWA-IE) is a regional 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with the purpose of strengthening the success of Latina Entrepreneurs in the Inland Southern California region by educating, promoting, developing, and supporting the rapid growth of Latina business owners and professionals.

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