FAQ – Essential Businesses


What businesses are considered "essential" such that they can continue operating following a "shelter in place" order?

Each state, and in some cases municipality, is taking separate action to define which businesses are considered "essential" or "life sustaining." Businesses are responsible for reviewing the governmental orders and determining for themselves whether or not they are permitted to continue operations. Some, but not all, governmental entities have provided a process to allow businesses which are not otherwise defined to be essential to petition for such status. While there are nuanced differences among the states and municipalities, many are modeling their orders consistent with the federal guidelines published by CISA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, and available at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce. However, the federal guidelines are merely guidelines and it is important to review and consider each state's and municipality's (where applicable) executive order or other action to determine whether or not a business can continue to operate in that state or municipality. The National Governors Association is tracking the state actions at the following website, which is updated frequently: https://www.nga.org/coronavirus/#actions.

This is a fluid and rapidly changing situation and these resources are current only as of the date of publication. We recommend that you contact your local Quarles & Brady attorney regarding the most up-to-date information or with any other questions regarding this subject matter, or contact

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