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March 23, 2020

A Letter to Gov. Kemp Regarding “Essential Infrastructure” and “Essential Businesses”

Dear Governor Kemp:

As we are confronted with a historic moment in our state, we thank you for your swift and decisive actions and, particularly, for engaging experts from a variety of industries and backgrounds as you lead the state of Georgia through this unprecedented time. We are thankful for the continued concern you have shown for the health of Georgians and the continued efforts you have made to protect some level of basic economic functionality in our state as we move forward with measures to block the spread of COVID-19.

We are united in our desire to stop the spread of the virus and are actively heeding and disseminating the guidance of public health officials and government leaders. Simultaneously, we are working to understand the economic consequences facing the business community and our workforce. To that end, we seek to protect businesses and services that may be unintentionally harmed as a result of varying and uncoordinated orders at the county and city level.

Specifically, we are concerned that local shelter in place and curfew orders are likely to significantly impede the operations of essential infrastructure providers as well as the supply chains that serve them. If essential infrastructure workers must cross multiple jurisdictions with different rules simply to get to and from work, and if some such workers are prohibited to travel and some essential businesses are forced to close, it is very likely we will see broad, negative impacts to all Georgians.

Therefore, we urge you to issue an order or guidance defining “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses.” We have included our perspective on these topics and ask that you give them careful consideration. To be clear, we differentiate workers supporting these industries from non-essential employees and we stress that all non-essential workers should stay home and practice social distancing.

We support the definition of “essential infrastructure” as defined in the April 17 guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Additionally, we offer the list below that is included or implied in many categories of the CISA guidance and represents businesses that directly serve our essential workforce, provide essential services, or do things (e.g. funeral homes) that are essential for maintaining morale. We note three points about this list:

  1. Presence on an essential infrastructure list in no way excuses any business from following all public health recommendations and requirements to protect employees and customers. In all sectors, workers should be in compliance with social distancing requirements to the extent possible and observe the advice of public health officials.

  2. The CISA list is specifically intended to not be comprehensive, and the federal government has noted that states may well want to restrict and/or expand certain components.

  3. Any essential infrastructure list should be a living document that allows our state leaders to update included/excluded businesses as we learn more about both what constitutes “essential infrastructure” and what tools work most effectively to fight the spread of this virus.

We have developed the following list of specific businesses or types of workers who support businesses for your consideration. Listed in no particular order of priority, these are businesses that are either contemplated, but not included, in the CISA effort or directly serve businesses that are:

  • Retail establishments supplying food, childcare supplies, cleaning supplies, personal care supplies, pet supplies, and other household consumer products

  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food in support of essential infrastructure operations

  • Delivery services including mailing, shipping, and those business delivering groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences and other businesses

  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing

  • Emergency veterinary and livestock services

  • Banking and financial institutions

  • Transportation providers servicing essential activities or employees

  • Cleaning services

  • Laundry service providers

  • Automotive services including gas stations, auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities

  • Hotels and places of accommodation

  • Animal shelters

  • Funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries

  • Hardware stores

  • Media services including newspapers, television, and radio

  • Service providers necessary for the safety, sanitation, and operation of residences including plumbers, electricians, and exterminators

  • Educational institutions for the purposes of facilitating distance learning, maintenance, and other essential functions

  • Businesses and organizations that aid for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals

  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children

  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children

  • Professional services necessary for compliance with legally mandated activities including accounting, tax prep, and legal services

  • Childcare facilities for essential employees

  • Manufacturing of goods necessary for operation of essential infrastructure and businesses

  • Workers who support residential and commercial construction projects including operation, inspection, material provision, waste handling, and maintenance sites and projects*

  • Businesses supplying essential businesses and people working from home*

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and new difficulties arise, we hope that you will continue to maintain communication with the business community to ensure we can work together under your leadership to adapt and amend this list as necessary. We also urge you to consider any necessary steps to ensure these essential workers are not arbitrarily limited by a patchwork of local government orders in their ability to get to work and provide for their families as they work to support all the citizens of our state.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber, our board, and regional business community are committed to doing our part to flatten the curve and support your team as we all work through this together. Do not hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance in any way.

Sincerely,

Hala Moddelmog, President and Chief Executive Officer, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Katie Kirkpatrick, P.E., Chief Policy Officer, Metro Atlanta Chamber

 

*Amended April 20, 2020

Click here to access the letter and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce. 

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