UPDATE: March 23, 2020
Governor Baker announced a statewide “Stay at Home” order, which will begin , March 24 at noon and last at least until April 7. All non-essential businesses will be ordered to cease operations for the same time period.
On Friday, March 20, Governor Baker mentioned at a press conference that there are no plans to order a statewide lockdown, or issue a “shelter in place” mandate, as has been done in New York, Illinois, and California.
Should the situation change, and such an order is given, many businesses may have to close on a temporary basis. Certain businesses, however, may be considered “essential” and thus be allowed to remain operational during a statewide shutdown.
It is likely that Massachusetts would look to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency for guidance on what may constitute “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” as the Agency has assembled a comprehensive list of industries and businesses which it has defined as such.
The Agency has established a listing of such entities “to help State and local 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.” See Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response, by Agency Director dated March 19, 2020.
The Agency has made it clear that state and local officials should use their judgment in determining which businesses should be allowed to continue operations during a statewide shutdown. The Guidance assembled by the Agency identifies several categories of “essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and that need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.”
The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce includes the following categories: healthcare workers; law enforcement; food and agriculture, including employees “engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agriculture production and distribution;” energy workers in the electricity, petroleum, and natural gas industries; workers needed to “operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure;” transportation workers for mass transit, vehicle repair workers and air transportation employees; IT workers; and critical manufacturing workers in the areas of medical supplies, food and agriculture, energy and communications among others. A full listing of the recommended essential workforce can be found at the following: