Update (May 29, 2020): This issue is now addressed in CCC 5.1.18, which is available for immediate download – CCC can make bootable backups of macOS 10.15.5. Choose "Check for Updates" from the Carbon Copy Cloner menu to get the latest version of CCC. Special thanks to my team members for helping put this release together so quickly, the folks at Wordcrafts for a wicked-fast turnaround on these UI translations, and for several beta testers that helped us knock out some kinks along the way.
Early last week we discovered an APFS filesystem bug in a beta of macOS 10.15.5. The technical details of the bug are laid out below, but the short version is that we're no longer able to use our own file copier to establish an initial bootable backup of a macOS Catalina System volume. To be very clear – existing backups are unaffected, and this has no effect on CCC's ability to preserve your data, nor any effect on the integrity of the filesystems on your startup disk or your backup disk. The impact of this bug is limited to the initial creation of a bootable backup.
So that's a lemon... But hey, summer has arrived here in the northern hemisphere, so let's make some lemonade!
Creating bootable backups in a post-10.15.5 world
Last year at Apple's Developer Conference, Apple suggested that backup software could use Apple's "Apple Software Restore" (ASR) for cloning APFS volume groups. Initially I dismissed this – I shouldn't have to use Apple's black-box utility to do my job, I prefer to take full responsibility for my backups. Anticipating a world in which Apple continues to restrict access to APFS rather than grant it, though, we decided to invest a fair amount of time evaluating this functionality, and we've been beta testing it for the last 8 months. I don't like to lean on ASR for general backups because it has some shortcomings and doesn't give any insight into its internal activity (e.g. files copied, errors encountered), but in this very narrowly-defined case, we can leverage Apple's proprietary utility just to establish bootable backups. We posted a beta last Sunday with new UI around this functionality, and we intend to continue producing bootable backups by leveraging ASR for the initial backup.
I already have backups of 10.15.4, do I need to do anything special after updating to 10.15.5?
No. If you established your backup on a previous version of Catalina, then your backup volume already has functional firmlinks and CCC will continue to update that volume just fine. Apply the CCC 5.1.18 update, but no additional special steps are required.