What Essential and Non-Essential Businesses Need to Know About Governor Lamont’s Executive Order

| Mar 23, 2020 | Labor and Employment |

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, Governor Lamont issued a sweeping Executive Order that affects all businesses and non-profits in the state.  The Executive Order goes into effect Monday, March 23, 2020, at 8:00 p.m., leaving businesses with little time to prepare.  Here’s what you need to know.

All businesses and non-profits, whether essential or not, are required to “employ, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ.”

Restrictions for Non-Essential Businesses and Non-Profits

Non-essential businesses and non-profits must reduce their in-person workforce at workplace locations by 100%.  Restaurants can continue providing takeout service.  A subsequent Executive Order modifies the original restriction to permit 1) non-essential retailers to be staffed on site, provided that they may only offer remote ordering (e.g. phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and delivery or curb-side pick-up, and 2) non-essential businesses and non-profits to allow staff or third parties on site to the minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance, and receipt of mail and packages, or other services deemed essential in implementing guidance issued by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Except for these two modifications, non-essential businesses and non-profits must send all their workers home.  Operations may be maintained through telecommuting only.

Restrictions for Essential Businesses and Non-Profits

As mentioned above, essential businesses and non-profits are required to employ telecommuting procedures to the maximum extent they can safely do so.  For example, a hospital may remain open, but if payroll can be conducted from the payroll manager’s home, that must be done.  It should not be left to employees to choose whether to work from home based on their comfort level or other factors.  It is up to the employer to determine whether work can be performed from home without compromising safety.

Which Businesses and Non-Profits are “Essential”?

The Executive Order lists certain types of businesses and non-profits as essential, using general categories.  The Department of Economic Community Development provided more detail on which types of operations fall within the general categories.  The complete list is reproduced below.  If the function of your business or non-profit is not listed, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an Essential Business by contacting the Department of Economic Community Development.  Requests to be designated an essential function should only be made if they are not covered by the guidance.  Also, any business that only has a single occupant/employee (e.g. attendant) is deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an Essential Business.

1. Essential workers in the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors, as defined by the federal 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 day care
• health care plans and health care data
• home health care 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 any other healthcare related supplies or services
• medical wholesale and distribution
• nursing homes, or residential health care 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/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 e-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/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/dry cleaning
• 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 that provide 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 U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government

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The Labor and Employment attorneys at Berchem Moses PC are available to help your business navigate the ever-changing legal landscape in these uncertain times.  Please contact us if we can be of service.

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