The news late Friday was not unexpected. The Governor is shutting down the offices of non-essential businesses including non-profits.
But if I had told you two weeks ago that Connecticut would be issuing an order telling non-essential businesses that their offices would have to close, I’m not sure I would’ve had many believers.
And yet, here we are.
Executive Order 7H has been something I’ve been trying to get employers to prepare for, particularly in a prior post.
Here’s the key text:
- All businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall employ, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ.
- Non-essential businesses or not-for-profit entities shall reduce their in-person workforces at any workplace locations by 100% not later than March 23, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.
- Any essential business or entity providing essential goods, services or functions shall not be subject to these in-person restrictions.
Thus, any office, retail store or non-profit needs to close its in-person locations to all employees. Employees may still be permitted to telecommute or work from home. But even those workplaces that only employ one person seem to be covered by this for now.
And what is “essential”? The DECD Commissioner is to release a list by Monday but the Governor as outlined some of the categories:
- The 16 critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the Department of Homeland Security and available at https://www.cisa.gov/criticalinfrastructure-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 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;
- 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.
Any other business may be deemed essential after receiving approval from the DECD. If you believe your business is covered, now is the time to seek such an exemption.
You may want to consult with your legal counsel on this too; my firm has been advising clients the last few days with regarding to orders in other parts of the country already.
There are still plenty of questions; for example, can outdoor maintenance crews who are socially distancing still perform work on non-essential businesses? What about other outdoor work that is not in a workplace?
Note that the order itself focuses on the business and not the individual. Despite the Governor’s request to stay home and stay safe, there is not an order from the governor that individuals must stay home from work; rather, the work is closed to the employee.
Nevertheless, this Order will certainly impact another round of employees who cannot telework and will have to either be laidoff or furloughed.
My colleagues and I are working on providing additional analysis of the Order and its implications. We hope to put it up on our Firm’s website sometime soon.
It’s been a long week for all. Stay home and stay safe.