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Homeland Security: Food stores, carry-out/QSR, DC employees essential

The Department of Homeland Security released updated COVID-19 guidance identifying the “essential critical infrastructure workforce” during the ongoing national emergency.  

In a Memorandum of Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response, the department wrote: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” (The guidance is advisory and is not a federal directive to states, meaning state and local governments are not required to provide the same level of recognition.)

On March 19, the National Retail Federation sent a letter to the White House asking for national guidance from federal health officials that would provide a broader definition of “essential retail businesses.” 

In its updated guidance, Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recognizes key businesses as essential, including:

  • Retail fuel centers, such as gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them;
  • Retailers that sell food and beverage products;
  • Restaurant carry-out and quick-serve food operations;
  • Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees;
  • Employees and firms supporting food, feed and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers;
  • Truck drivers who haul hazardous and waste materials to support critical infrastructure, capabilities, functions and services; and
  • Workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments (e.g., armored cash carriers)
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