California COVID-19 Bulletin

To our valued California Notary Network:

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding Governor Newsome’s declaration of a state of disaster and order to close all non-essential businesses and additional communication allegedly provided by a member or members of Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office.  The governor’s order follow very closely to other states and to federal orders regarding essential and non-essential businesses. The Department of Homeland Security has identified sixteen pieces of critical infrastructure and provided guidance in support of readiness in light of COVID-19.  That guide can be found Here.

The guide states that financial services and specifically, the provisioning of credit and liquidity to customers as one of the sixteen pieces of critical infrastructure during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Without the essential services provided by title insurance companies, attorneys and notaries, the extension of credit and the ability of homeowners to tap into their home’s liquidity in this time of emergency would cease.  Commissioner Lara of the California Department of Insurance has published additional guidance supporting title and escrow operations as being part of essential services in this time of crisis.

It is our position that settlement services including the search and underwriting of title, the execution and attestation of documents and disbursement of funds as part of the mortgage banking supply chain constitutes essential services under Governor Newsome’s order. Our notary signing agent partners are a key component of this process without which the wheels of commerce will halt, further exacerbating the economic nature of this crisis.

We will continue to work with our lending industry partners, our title insurance and escrow agents and our notary signing agents in the days ahead to ensure that transactions can proceed in a compliant and safe manner.