On Sunday March 22, 2020, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development released “legally binding guidance” concerning which businesses are “essential” for purposes of Governor Lamont’s March 20, 2020, Executive Order 7H (directing all businesses and nonprofit entities to utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ). The full text of the DECD guidance is available here: Business Exemptions for Coronavirus – Executive Order 7H.

 

If you are assessing the “essential” nature of your business, read the guidance carefully before seeking an “essential” designation from the state. Likely anticipating a deluge of requests, the DECD directs “requests by businesses to be designated an essential function as described below, should ONLY be made if they are NOT covered by the following guidance.”  If unclear whether your business is “essential” after reviewing all available guidance and discussing with counsel, businesses may seek an “essential” designation at this link: https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-for-Businesses/Essential-Business-Designation-Form.

 

Notable updated rules and clarifications include:

  • Essential retailers may be staffed on-site, provided that they may only offer remote ordering (e.g. phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and curb-side pick-up or delivery.
  • Non-essential businesses and nonprofits to allow staff or third parties on site to the minimum extent necessary to provide security, maintenance and receipt of mail and packages.
  • 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.
  • The guidance only applies to business and non-profit entities. It does not apply to any state or local government agencies, quasi-public agencies, political subdivisions, or other entities that do not constitute businesses or nonprofits.

 

The DECD makes clear that 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.” Another notable clarification is that the guidance applies to each business location individually, assumedly meaning entities may assess each physical business location separately in determining whether any exceptions apply.

 

The balance of the guidance provides:

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

  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.

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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

 

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

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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)

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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

 

  1. Defense
  • defense and national security-related business and operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government