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Connecticut Releases More Guidance on Essential Business Designations Amid COVID-19

March 30, 2020

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has released additional guidance on essential business definitions, clarifying previous orders and providing processes and forms for requesting exemptions, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Note that the following guidance must be read in conjunction with prior orders. Accordingly, while the essential businesses listed below are not subject to the in-person restriction set forth in Executive Order 7H, social distancing guidance and the general order to telecommute when possible still applies.

In sum:

  • With respect to non-essential businesses and nonprofits, this guidance applies to each business location individually and is intended to assist businesses in determining whether they are an essential business and the steps they may take to request that designation.
  • The guidelines set forth here apply to places of business. Non-essential businesses may continue activities that are conducted off-site (e.g. a customer’s home) and/or by telecommuting or working from home. 
  • Pursuant to the Executive Order 7J, issued on March 22, 2020: (1) non-essential retailers may be staffed on-site, provided they may only offer remote ordering (e.g. phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and curb-side pick-up or delivery and (2) non-essential businesses and nonprofits may allow staff or third parties on site to the minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages. This includes, but is not limited to, auto, boat, bicycle, recreational vehicle, and all other vehicle sales, if conducted remotely. 
  • To the extent possible, employees of essential businesses whose duties are not critical to an essential business function described below should telecommute or utilize any work from home procedures available to them.

Essential Business Defined

For the purposes of Executive Order 7H, “essential business” means:

1. Essential workers in the 16 critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security unless otherwise addressed in a prior or future executive order pertaining to the existing declared public health and civil preparedness emergency.

2. Healthcare and related operations, including:

  • biotechnology therapies
  • consumer health products and services
  • doctor and dentist offices
  • elder care, including adult daycare
  • home healthcare workers or aides
  • hospitals
  • manufacturing, distributing, warehousing, and supplying of pharmaceuticals, including research and development
  • medical marijuana dispensaries and producers
  • medical supplies and equipment providers, including devices, diagnostics, services, and other healthcare-related supplies or services
  • medical wholesale and distribution
  • nursing homes, or residential healthcare facilities or congregate care facilities
  • pharmacies
  • physical therapy and chiropractic offices
  • research and laboratory services, including testing and treatment of COVID-19
  • veterinary and animal health services
  • walk-in-care health facilities

3. Infrastructure, including:

  • airports and airlines
  • commercial trucking
  • dam maintenance and support
  • education-related functions at the primary, secondary, or higher education level to provide support for students, including distribution of meals or faculty conducting distance learning
  • hotels and other places of accommodation
  • water and wastewater operations, systems, and businesses
  • telecommunications and data centers
  • transportation infrastructure, including bus, rail, for-hire vehicles and vehicle rentals, and garages
  • utilities including power generation, fuel supply, and transmission

4. All manufacturing and corresponding supply chains, including aerospace, agriculture, and related support businesses

5. Retail, including:

  • appliances, electronics, computers, and telecom equipment
  • big-box stores or wholesale clubs, provided they also sell groceries, consumer health products, or operate a pharmacy
  • convenience stores
  • gas stations
  • grocery stores, including all food and beverage retailers
  • guns and ammunition
  • hardware, paint, and building material stores, including home appliance sales/repair
  • liquor/package stores and manufacturer permittees
  • pharmacies
  • pet and pet supply stores

6. Food and agriculture, including:

  • farms and farmer’s markets
  • food manufacturing, processing, storage, and distribution facilities 
  • nurseries, garden centers, and agriculture supply stores
  • restaurants and bars (provided compliance with all applicable executive orders is maintained)

7. Services, including:

  • accounting and payroll services
  • animal shelters or animal care or management, including boarding, grooming, pet walking, and pet sitting 
  • auto supply, repair, towing, and service, including roadside assistance
  • bicycle repair and service
  • building cleaning and maintenance
  • child care services
  • critical operations support for financial institutions
  • financial advisors
  • financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and check cashing services
  • funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries
  • insurance companies
  • laundromats and dry cleaners
  • legal and accounting services
  • mail and shipping services
  • marinas and marine repair and service
  • news and media
  • real estate transactions and related services, including residential leasing and renting
  • religious services (subject to Executive Order 7D limiting gatherings to 50 people)
  • storage for essential businesses
  • trash and recycling collection, hauling, and processing
  • warehouse/distribution, shipping, and fulfillment

8. Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations, including:

  • food banks
  • homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
  • human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody, and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support social service agencies

9. Construction, including:

  • all skilled trades, such as electricians, HVAC, and plumbers 
  • general construction, both commercial and residential
  • other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes
  • planning, engineering, design, bridge inspection, and other construction support activities

10. Services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of all residences and other buildings, including services necessary to secure and maintain non-essential workplaces:

  • building cleaners or janitors
  • building code enforcement
  • disinfection
  • doormen
  • emergency management and response
  • fire prevention and response
  • general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
  • home-related services, including real estate transactions, closings, appraisals, and moving services
  • landscaping services
  • law enforcement
  • outdoor maintenance, including pool service
  • pest control services
  • security and maintenance, including steps reasonably necessary to secure and maintain non-essential businesses
  • state marshals

11. Vendors providing essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care, and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the public, including:

  • billboard leasing and maintenance
  • child care services
  • essential government services
  • government owned or leased buildings
  • information technology and information security
  • logistics
  • technology support

12. Defense 

  • defense and national security-related business and operations supporting the US government or a contractor to the US government

If the function of a business is not listed above, but is believed to be essential or an entity providing essential services or functions, a designation as an essential business may be requested. Requests by businesses to be designated an essential function should only be made if they are not covered by the above guidance.

Restrictions on requesting designation as an essential business include any business that has only a single occupant/employee (e.g. attendant). Such businesses are deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an essential business.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Hartford
Michael C. D’Agostino
Daniel I. Papermaster
David K. Shim