Initial Guidance on the Governor’s Executive Order on the Closure of “Non-Essential Businesses”
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As you may have heard, late yesterday afternoon, Governor Lamont issued his latest executive order (the “Executive Order”) with respect to the COVID-19 crisis which will have a significant impact on businesses throughout our state and raise a myriad of issues for employers. 

The Executive Order may be accessed by clicking here.  

In summary, this Executive Order provides that effective March 23, 2020 (i.e., this Monday) at 8:00 p.m., and through April 22, 2020 (unless terminated earlier or extended):

  1. All businesses and not-for profit entities in the state shall employ “to the maximum extent possible” all telecommuting and work from home procedures that they safely can employ, and
  2. All non-essential businesses and not for profit entities must reduce their in-person workforces at any workplace by 100% by 8 p.m. on March 23.

Essential businesses or entities providing essential services, goods and functions” are not subject to these in person workforce restrictions (although they still may be subject to the less proscriptive restriction listed in #1 above).           

You may be wondering whether your business qualifies as “essential” or “non-essential” and how to best move forward in either case?

The Executive Order provides preliminary guidance on this question providing a list of the types of businesses which will be deemed “essential” but then orders Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to provide further lawfully binding guidance on which businesses are “essential” by 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

So far, it appears the following types of businesses will be considered “essential” and thus not subject to the 100% in person reduction in force rule.   

  • The 16 critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and listed at https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors;
  • 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 supplying 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 all previous and future executive orders issued;
  • “Essential services” including trash and recycling collection, hauling, and processing, mail and shipping services;
  • The 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; and
  • 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 types of businesses may be deemed essential once the DECD issues its guidance on Sunday.

If your business is not designated as “essential” and you think it should be, the Executive Order provides that other business may be deemed “essential” after requesting an opinion from DECD, which shall grant the request if it determines that it is in the best interest of the state to have the workforce continue at full capacity to properly respond to this emergency.   

We will inform you of further updates (including DECD’s determinations as to what businesses are deemed to be “essential”) as they emerge.

As this Executive Order will create a host of financial and personnel issues for businesses deemed “essential” and “non-essential” (including whether layoffs, furloughs, and/or reduction in hours may be necessary for your workforce), we strongly recommend consulting with your Pullman & Comley attorney. We are available and ready to help.

This blog/web site presents general information only. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and you should not consider or rely on it as such. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this website. Neither our presentation of such information nor your receipt of it creates nor will create an attorney-client relationship with any reader of this blog. Any links from another site to the blog are beyond the control of Pullman & Comley, LLC and do not convey their approval, support or any relationship to any site or organization. Any description of a result obtained for a client in the past is not intended to be, and is not, a guarantee or promise the firm can or will achieve a similar outcome.

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