Clarification Regarding Essential Businesses

March 23rd, 2020 - 2:35 pm

NEFI continues to receive inquiries from members regarding the definition of "essential business" under federal guidance and state orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In making these determinations, most states and localities are using as guidance the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on March 19, 2020. Again, this is a guidance document. It places no requirements or restraints on commerce.

The CISA guidance document includes truck drivers who haul hazardous materials to support critical infrastructure, capabilities, functions, and services. It also mentions plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, such as HVAC-R service and repair.

While an individual state's definition of "essential" businesses and workers may vary, we remain confident that fuel delivery and HVAC-R service and repair will not be impeded by any state's "stay-at-home" order that exempts essential businesses or industries. These products and services are more important than ever, with millions of families now staying home due to school closures, telework requirements, and "social distancing" practices.

Again, emergency orders and their requirements vary state-by-state. We encourage you to look to your state industry association for further details, guidance and support. NEFI is also working to keep its COVID-19 resource page up to date with latest best practices, guidance, and resources.