Multiple state governors have issued orders for their residents to shelter at home and for non-essential businesses to close. We expect this to occur in most other states, if not all, in the near term. Although the directives vary from state to state, there is a focus on keeping “essential” businesses and functions operational. How do we know what businesses and services are “essential”?

That question is likely to be up for significant debate; however, guidance has been offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).  Christopher Krebs, Director of CISA, announced in a memorandum that CISA, in collaboration with other federal agencies and the private sector, have developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” This list is designed to assist state, local and tribal officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. 

CISA has identified “16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors” whose assets, systems and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered extremely vital to the United States.  Those sectors are:

CISA has also provided detailed examples of workers within each sector that are deemed essential on its fact sheet and has provided information on Frequently Asked Questions on its website. State, local and tribal officials must make their own judgments, but CISA’s list is intended to provide guidance. We encourage businesses to review the list to plan for and, if necessary, respond to any mandated closures.

Additionally, please consult Husch Blackwell’s COVID-19 State-by-State Guidance Resource Center, which monitors developments across multiple states as well as from the U.S. Congress and federal agencies.