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April 20, 2020

U.S. Federal Government Updates Essential Business Designation Guidance

On Friday, April 17, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the third version of its guidance on which industries should be deemed “essential” during COVID-19.

While the vast majority of changes are clarifying in nature, the new guidance expands critical infrastructure workers in some sectors, including by adding categories related to vehicle manufacturing and their supply chains. The new guidance also includes language focused on sustained access and freedom of movement and changes most of the references to “employees” and “contractors” to “workers” in order to bring as many workers as possible under the guidance.

Click here to read the new guidance and here for a more robust explanation.

CISA will continue to update this guidance. MSCI members can help strengthen it by emailing CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov with detailed examples of why your business and supply chain are critical, life-sustaining infrastructure.

As MSCI has previously reported, this CISA memorandum is meant to help state and local officials determine how to protect their communities while also ensuring the security and resiliency of critical infrastructure. Ultimately, state governors and local officials make the final determination about what industries and employees are “essential.” To date, 45 states and territories have published guidance. MultiState, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Thomas are all tracking those state orders. Click on those individual links for the summaries.

It is imperative that metals service centers engage with their local and state officials on this issue. The National Association of Manufacturers has provided a list of instructions offering advice for how to communicate with them about this issue. If companies use the templates and instructions provided here, they should alter them to reflect their individual operations. Now, more than ever, it is important that our community of companies speaks with a nonpartisan and unified voice to our elected officials and policymakers.

As a reminder, on April 6 MSCI hosted a call for members with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss these designations. A replay of the call is available here. In March, MSCI submitted a letter to CISA requesting that metals service centers be considered critical infrastructure and remain open.

MSCI also encourages its members to check out materials from the National Association of Wholesalers, which has provided a template letter that drivers and employees can use to get to work and to conduct work as employees of the critical infrastructure. Critical truck drivers and workers should have a hard copy of this document with them at all times when working. Please be aware that this letter is self-certifying and not an official federal document so companies should review any document that you provide to your employees with your own counsel.

Provinces in Canada are making similar designations. On March 23, MSCI sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that MSCI member companies remain open in the face of the growing number of business shutdowns across Canada. Thomas is keeping a list of Canadian shutdown orders. The National Association of Manufacturers also has provided guidance for various Canadian provinces. Click here to access it. As it is in the United States, it is important for MSCI member companies to communicate directly with provincial officials on this matter.