On Friday, March 20, Governor Lamont issued an executive order requiring non-essential workers to stay home.  All workplaces have been ordered to utilize telecommuting, where possible.  Executive Order 7H represents the most drastic step yet in Connecticut’s battle against COVID-19, and followed mere hours after Governor Cuomo announced similar measures in New York.  The order is effective as of Monday, March 23 at 8pm, and runs through April 22 – a date likely to be extended.

What workers are “essential” in the battle against COVID-19?  While the Department of Economic and Community Development is set to release a legally binding list by Sunday at 8pm, the order provides provisional guidance as follows:

  • essential health care operations including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, elder care and home health care workers,
  • companies and institutions involved in the research and development, manufacture, distribution, warehousing, and supplying of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapies, health care data, consumer health products, medical devices, diagnostics, equipment, services and any other healthcare related supplies or services;
  • essential infrastructure, including utilities, wastewater and drinking water, telecommunications, airports and transportation infrastructure;
  • manufacturing, including food processing, pharmaceuticals, and industries supporting the essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military;
  • the defense industrial base, including aerospace, mechanical and software engineers, manufacturing/production workers, aircraft and weapon system mechanics and maintainers;
  • essential retail, including grocery stores and big-box stores or wholesale clubs, provided they also sell groceries;
  • pharmacies, gas stations and convenience stores; food and beverage retailers (including liquor/package stores and manufacturer permittees) and restaurants, provided they comply with previous and future executive orders issued during the existing declared public health and civil preparedness emergency;
  • essential services including trash and recycling collection, hauling, and processing, mail and shipping services;
  • news media;
  • legal and accounting services;
  • banks, insurance companies, check cashing services, and other financial institutions;
  • providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations;
  • construction;
  • vendors of essential services and goods necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses, including pest control and landscaping services;
  • 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 the provision of goods, services or functions necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Other businesses may apply to the Department of Economic and Community Development for “essential” status.

Finally, the order forbids local officials from issuing any “shelter in place” or other travel restriction order without written approval from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  That provision may seek to preempt a situation similar to New York’s public back and forth between Governor Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Murtha attorneys are available to discuss the “essential” nature of your business under this most recent executive order.  Whether you are working from home or the office, we encourage you to follow official guidance, and stay safe.