Requirements for conducting health screenings, as outlined below, must be adopted and followed by all City departments unless they adopt a more rigorous requirement, pursuant to health guidance.

City employees who are reporting to a City worksite or working in the field must be free from symptoms of COVID-19 infection to prevent further spread of the virus. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever at or above 100.4 F (38.0C), chills, sweats, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, persistent sneezing or runny nose different from allergies, difficulty breathing, fatigue, body aches, headache, new loss of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Employees must self-monitor for any symptoms on a daily basis and should continue to engage in regular handwashing, cover all coughs, wear facial coverings, and regularly clean their work areas.

Departments must require employees to certify they are free of COVID-19 symptoms before reporting to the workplace each day by reviewing and completing a symptom checklist. Whenever feasible, departments should instruct employees to complete their self-screen and certification at home, before reporting to work, using their own thermometer, if available

In addition to requiring employee self-certification, a subset of departments and positions with particular exposure risk will conduct on-site temperature screenings before each work shift. This is in keeping with CDC guidelines.

Information obtained from an employee in response to health screenings is confidential medical information; therefore, departments should determine only whether an employee has “passed” or was “sent home” after the screening. Departments must not retain screening records or disclose screening results.

Employee Refusal to Participate in Screening

Screening and self-certification is mandatory. Departments should provide advance notice to employees that failure to participate in screening may subject them to discipline as described below. Managers should explain to reluctant employees that screening is vital to protect all employees (including the employee reluctant to participate in screening) from possible COVID-19 infection. In addition, because local, State, and Federal health authorities have acknowledged community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, employers are legally permitted to conduct health screenings

Employees who refuse to participate in the screening will not be allowed to enter the workplace.

Departments will give that employee a specific notice explaining these mandatory safety requirements, which are essential employment conditions during this pandemic. Should the employee continue to refuse, they may be sent home on accrued leave, other than sick leave (except for any time spent in the workplace prior to the screening). The City will proceed with discipline up to and including termination of employment for employees who refuse to comply with the requirement a second time.

Below is a sample, pre-approved procedure departments may use for screening. Departments should ensure that all employees entering the location are subject to the same screening procedure.


Screening consists of asking questions (or using a questionnaire) either before the employee’s arrival at the workplace or when the employee first enters the worksite. Where feasible, departments should offer employees the opportunity to complete a questionnaire (online or by other method) before reporting to the worksite. This will allow employees who are experiencing symptoms to remain isolated. Employees may take their own temperature at home using their personal thermometer, if available. But if the employee’s department or position involves an on-site temperature check, a self-check at home does not excuse complying with the on-site screening. The symptom checklist may change based on public health guidance.

If the question-phase of screening is conducted at the worksite, screening should be performed, if possible, in a private location outside of the building, but in an area protected from cold weather and wind. Employees should be asked to complete a written form or answer questions orally and to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

Departments must ask employees the following questions:

  1. Do you currently have or have you in the past 24 hours had any one of the following symptoms which is new or not explained by another reason: fever at or above 100.4°F (38°C), chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, unusual weakness or fatigue, loss of smell or taste, muscle aches, headache, runny nose different from your allergies, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?
  2. Have you had close contact with anyone in the last 14 days at home or in the community who has been confirmed to have COVID-19? Close contacts include people in your home, sex partners including only kissing, or people who you take care of or who take care of you. It also includes people who were within 6 feet of you for more than 15 minutes total in a 24-hour period, whether or not they were wearing a face covering, or with whom you had contact with their body fluids secretions.
  3. Within the past 10 days, have you been diagnosed or tested positive for COVID-19?
  4. Within the past 10 days, have you traveled outside of the Bay Area Counties (San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Marin) for any reason except as permitted under the current San Francisco travel quarantine order?**(For more information on permissible travel, go to the Resources section at the end of this document for a link to the Health Order)

If the employee answers all of these questions with a “no”, then the employee may enter the worksite unless subject to additional on-site temperature screening as described in the section below.

If the employee answers any of these questions with a “yes,” then the department should send the employee home and/or advise them not to report to work until they have complied with the department's return-to-work protocol, including compliance with the applicable Health Officer’s quarantine and isolation orders.

Employees who answer “yes” to the travel question (#4) can be referred to their Departmental Personnel Office for further guidance on whether the employee’s travel is permissible under the health order. The DPO should not question the employee as to the reasons for travel but should communicate what is permissible to the employee and allow them to respond with a “yes” or “no” as to whether their travel fits any of the exceptions.

DPOs should first contact their DHR Client Services Representative to assist if there are questions. Further consultation can be directed to Dr. Fiona Wilson or Peggy Sugarman.

Temperature Screening

Departments whose work or activities offer potentially increased chance of exposure must conduct a deeper level of screening than questionnaire only: re-entry temperature screening. If departments require temperature screening, they must apply the procedures consistently for similar workers and employees must comply with this requirement. Temperature screening on its own is not considered a reliable indicator of COVID-19 infection and is therefore not recommended for general usage. However, it may provide value in certain settings in which employees have higher exposure to infection, or where employees cannot physically distance themselves from others.

Those departments and activities include:

  • Personnel, visitors, and incarcerated/detained persons at correctional and detention facilities
  • Personnel, residents, and visitors at skilled nursing facilities
  • Custodial staff in all locations
  • 911 call center employees
  • Employees providing patient care at the Department of Public Health
  • Employees in transportation, utilities, and IT
  • Employees who are not able to safely physically distance from coworkers and the public
  • Critical Infrastructure workers who are permitted to continue working after close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, including:
    • Federal,state, & local law enforcement
    • Fusion Center employees

A detailed step-by-step procedure for administering temperature screening is described on the attached document.

Employees Who Do Not Pass Temperature Screening

If an employee does not pass the temperature screening, they should be sent home, advised to notify their supervisor, advised to monitor their symptoms, and asked to contact their own healthcare provider. Departments should instruct employees that they cannot return to the worksite until they have complied with the department’s return-to-work protocol for returning COVID-19 positive or assumed positive employees. Employees may also contact the City’s Nurse Triage Line at 855-850- 2249.


Go to DHR's main COVID-19 page

Recent Post
Emergency Planning