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COVID-19 Shelter in Place Orders: What Solar Companies Need to Know

Across the country, states have begun issuing “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” orders, directing residents to stay in their homes to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.  Although each of these orders is different, they generally allow for residents and businesses to continue essential activities and business operations. The solar industry ensures critical electric generation infrastructure to U.S. utilities, businesses and homes nationwide, and installations can be done safely in accordance with federal and state guidance. Nonetheless, it is imperative that the solar industry do its part to protect public health and follow the intent and spirit of these orders.

Below you will find links to the orders that have been issued to date, and general guidelines solar companies can follow.  We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available. Help SEIA continue to improve this guidance by responding to our survey, and emailing and with any examples of how and why solar workers provide critical infrastructure.

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does SEIA recommend with respect to state “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” orders?  Is solar installation/construction considered an essential activity?
  • Each state order is different. Solar companies doing business in a state where a “Shelter in Place” or similar order has been issued should have legal counsel immediately review the order.
  • Companies should pay close attention to “essential services,” “essential workers,” and “essential operations” described in the order to determine whether your business activities qualify. Many states are issuing guidance on this determination.
  • Companies should keep in mind the spirit and intent of these orders, which is to limit non-essential movement of persons outside their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.
  • Companies and their legal counsel should review the federal guidance from the Department of Homeland Security for additional information on what may be considered “essential” services and business activities. To the extent that federal and state or local guidance differ, companies should follow the more restrictive rule.
  • To the extent that companies continue work, employers should follow the CDC’s guidance, social distancing recommendations and workplace safety protocols. SEIA has developed a resource guide for installers, with links to additional guidance from government entities and other third parties. Employers have a general duty to protect employees from the recognized hazard of COVID-19 infection,.
Should my company engage in door-to-door sales in states that have limited public gatherings?
  • SEIA recommends that companies avoid door-to-door sales, particularly in states that have limited public gatherings or have asked residents to stay at home. Companies also need to consider any state or local ordinances restricting home solicitations. In addition, consumers likely wish to minimize in-person interactions with others. Bring sales online or by telephone. Tell us how doing so affects your business.
  • We have developed guidance regarding the residential solar permitting process, in light of social distancing measures.
What is SEIA doing to ensure that solar installation, construction, and maintenance is included in definitions of "essential services," or qualify as an exception, i.e., as a low risk/low density economic activity that can continue with social distancing protocols?
  • SEIA is deeply engaged in policy discussions at the federal level and in a dozen states across the nation. Our team is working with policymakers in each of our priority states to secure the best outcome possible for member companies.
  • We are developing talking points (see below) and a state-by-state advocacy plan to ensure that solar companies can continue doing business to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with protecting public health, including the health of our workers.
  • You can help. Fill out SEIA’s COVID-19 Survey to share information, and practice social distancing and best practice protocols in your business activities.
How can we best make our case to policymakers that solar installation and construction should be allowed to continue?
  • The U.S. Solar and storage industries, including manufacturers, suppliers, developers, builders and installers is a multi-billion dollar industry, employing roughly 250,000 workers, that provides critical electric generation infrastructure to U.S. utilities, businesses and homes nationwide.
  • The country cannot stop constructing new electric generation capacity, of which solar is now the largest resource. 40% of new electric generation in 2019 came from solar generation. According to EIA, 76% of planned electricity generation additions will come from wind and solar. Solar workers build and maintain critical infrastructure that helps keep the lights on.
  • Solar sales, installation and construction can be performed safely, pursuant to OSHA and CDC Guidance. Solar installers, EPCs, O&M and construction companies can and have implemented social distancing protocols and best practices on the job, including rooftop installations.
  • Distributed solar generation provides electric service to the dwellings and businesses to which it is interconnected, and with a storage component can provide resilience, prevent blackouts and supply electricity to mission critical infrastructure during emergency situations. Distributed solar can also bring an added benefit of reducing increases to peak demand, which becomes especially important with more people staying at home.
  • Similarly, municipalities and building departments are finding ways to continue their work remotely or with non-contact aides and tools. SEIA is monitoring how permitting and inspections are continuing or establishing other means to keep solar and construction activities continuing.
How are utilities around the country treating interconnection and other work - essential or non-essential?
  • Electric utility workers are classified as essential under the DHS Guidance.
  • SEIA will be working with utilities and regulators to keep interconnection processes moving.
  • At least one major utility has stated that it “anticipates social distancing policies and response to the virus will also impact distributed solar interconnection requests eventually."

Federal Guidance

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidance on critical infrastructure workers has been revised several times, most recently on March 28. The revised list of energy and electricity workers includes several provisions relevant to the solar industry:

  • Workers supporting the energy sector, regardless of the energy source (including but not limited to nuclear, fossil, hydroelectric, or renewable), segment of the system, or infrastructure the worker is involved in, or who are needed to monitor, operate, engineer, and maintain the reliability, safety, environmental health, and physical and cyber security of the energy system
  • Workers supporting the energy sector through renewable energy infrastructure (including, but not limited to wind, solar, biomass, hydrogen, ocean, geothermal, and/or hydroelectric), including those supporting construction, manufacturing, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, monitoring, and logistics
  • Workers who maintain, ensure, or restore, or are involved in the development, transportation, fuel procurement, expansion, or operation of the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power, including call centers, utility workers, engineers, retail electricity, constraint maintenance, and fleet maintenance technicians- who cannot perform their duties remotely
  • Workers at renewable energy infrastructure (including, but not limited to wind, solar, biomass, hydrogen, geothermal, and/or hydroelectric), including those supporting construction, manufacturing, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, monitoring, and logistics

The list “is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard. . . . Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

State Closure Orders

Statewide business closure orders are provided below. A number of states have taken lesser actions including limiting social gatherings, closing bars and restaurants, etc. Those lesser actions are not catalogued here.


On March 27, the Governor issued a mandate that prohibits travel between communities in the state except for critical personal needs (including buying groceries) or working critical infrastructure jobs, according to a statement from Governor Mike Dunleavy. The mandate went into effect on March 28 and will be reevaluated on April 11. Essential services and critical infrastructure are encouraged to remain in operation while complying with social distancing requirements. A list of essential Services and critical Infrastructure industries and entities in Alaska are defined here.


On March 30, Gov Ducey Arizona Governor Ducey issued a "stay-at-home" Order through April 30. This supplements an order issued April 23 that clarifies businesses and operations deemed “essential” by the state and providing certainty to business owners, employees and families. . Solar is not specifically mentioned, but construction is among the essential businesses: “…. Infrastructure operations, including food production, utility operators, construction and internet providers….”


A March 19 Order explicitly adopts the DHS Guidance, requiring “all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.”  A March 20 supplement defines critical infrastructure workers for the purposes of California.

What activities may solar companies engage in under the Governor Newsom’s March 19 statewide Shelter in Place Order?

  • Remote sales, O&M, and solar installation and construction appear to be allowed at this time. The San Francisco Bay Area has issued new Orders on March 31, see below.
  • Companies should consult the CDC’s Interim Guidance and follow social distancing protocols and recommended best practices, and ensure that their workers and customers are not put at risk.
  • Companies should avoid door to door sales at this time.
  • Companies should follow both state and local orders. The state has clarified that the statewide order supersedes county/local orders, though locals are free to put more strict orders in place.

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.


Governor Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order from March 26 at 6 am until April 11 2020. This order means Coloradans should not leave their homes except for critical activities that are defined in the updated public health order. The order also defines critical businesses that can continue operating. Non-critical businesses are ordered to close temporarily, except as necessary to engage in minimum basic operations needed to protect assets and maintain personnel functions.


A March 20 Order requires reducing workers at on-site work sites by 100 percent effective on Monday, March 23 at 8 PM, except for those businesses/non-profits designated as “essential.” The Department of Economic and Community Development will publish further guidance defining essential businesses here.


On March 22, the Governor issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses. The orders go into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. They will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated. Here is a list of essential and non-essential businesses, as defined by Sunday’s order. Businesses remaining open need to follow all Centers for Disease Control guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

District of Columbia

A March 22 Order requires temporary closure of the on-site operation of all non-essential businesses and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people. A list of essential businesses are defined in the Order, including “businesses that maintain, ensure, or restore, or are otherwise involved in the electricity industry” and “essential infrastructure.” The Order goes into effect on March 25, 2020, at 10 pm. On March 30,  Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay at home order, that will go into effect on Wednesday April 1 at 12:01 am. Residents are required to stay in their homes except to get medical care, travel to perform essential work, and perform or access essential government functions. The list of essential businesses that can remain open has not changed from the 2020-053 order. Business that are required to be closed, but still operating will have a penalty of up to $1,000 per day, and penalties of up to $5,000 per day for operation after an Order to close.


On April 2, the Governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order that become enforceable at 12:01 am on April 3, and will be in place until April 30. According to the order, residents should only leave their homes to “obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities. A list of essential services and activities is included here. The order adopts CISA version 2 which identifies essential critical infrastructure workers. This includes those supporting the energy sector through renewable energy infrastructure, including those supporting construction, manufacturing, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, monitoring, and logistics.


On April 2, Governor Kemp published his stay at home order which will take effect at 6pm on April 3rd and last through at least April 13th. The order provides uniformity, superseding all local orders issued earlier. The order adopts CISA version 2 which identifies essential critical infrastructure workers. This includes those supporting the energy sector through renewable energy infrastructure, including those supporting construction, manufacturing, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, monitoring, and logistics.


On March 23, the Governor issued a third supplementary proclamation, ordering all persons within the State of Hawaiʻi to stay at home or in their place of residence starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 25 through Apr. 30. All businesses or operations not identified as federal critical infrastructure sectors, designated by the Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA), or listed within the order, must cease.


On March 25, the Governor issued a statewide 21 day stay-home order for the state. This is directed to all businesses and governmental agencies to cease nonessential operations at physical locations, including prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals. This excludes healthcare, public safety and other essential workers as defined in the order.


A March 20 Order requires all individuals living in Illinois to stay at home or at their place of residence, except as specified, and to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet when outside their residences. All businesses except Essential Businesses and Operations and businesses providing Essential Infrastructure are required to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations. A list of essential business is included in the order.

What activities may solar companies engage in under Governor Pritzker's March 20 Order?

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.


A March 23 Order mandating residents to stay at home will be effective at 11:59pm on March 24. All non-essential businesses and operations are required to cease all activities except for Minimum Basic Operation which is defined in the order. Essential Business and Operations are listed on pages 5-8. Any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited.


A March 28 Order 20-16 institutes a temporary, stay-home order. It went into effect on March 30 and will be place at least until April 19. Kansans are directed to stay at home unless performing essential activities such as obtaining food, seeking medical food, and other activities addressed in the order. KEFF is a framework for identifying and continuing essential functions that must remain operational to maintain critical services and infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, are on pages 4-8 in the order.


A March 22 Order requires all in-person retail businesses that are not life sustaining to close March 23 at 8pm. A full list of categories of life-sustaining, in-person retail businesses is attached to that order.


On March 22, the Governor issued a statewide Stay at Home order that goes into effect at 5 pm on March 23. Any business not covered by the guidance from the CISA discussed in Section 3 of the order and not ordered to temporarily close must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees, while requiring proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.


A March 24 Order goes into effect on March 25 at 12 am and mandates all non-essential businesses and operations to close public facing locations. This includes sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible. Non-essential businesses and operations may continue activities that do not involve in-person contact and should facilitate the maximum number of employees working remotely. Businesses who feel they should be considered essential under the mandate can submit for consideration by visiting the Essential Service Request site.


On March 23, Governor Hogan ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses by 5pm on March 23. The Governor’s March 30th Stay at Home order amends its interpretive guidance for the order,  but does not change what businesses are deemed essential or nonessential, which remains based on the critical infrastructure sectors identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency


A March 23 Order requires all businesses not providing Essential Services to close their physical locations through April 7, and limits public gatherings to 10 people or less. Essential Services are defined in Exhibit A, which may be modified as new information develops, and which must be conducted following social distancing protocols. An updated list of Essential Services was published on April 1st. Solar work is considered an essential service. Massachusetts also updated its FAQs re Essential Services on April 1st, which address Energy and Construction. Companies should consult the “Commonwealth of Massachusetts COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Work” and ensure that their workers and customers are not put at risk on the job.


A March 23 Executive Order 2020-21 directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible, and broadly prohibits in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life. Businesses that employ critical infrastructure workers may continue in person operations using social distancing protocols, and businesses may conduct minimum basic operations, and must designate the workers who will do so. Critical infrastructure workers are for the most part those workers described by the DHS March 19 Order.


On March 26, the Governor issued an executive order that asks Minnesotans to stay home except for essential needs and services starting 11:59 pm on March 27 until April 10. People who work in “critical sectors” are defined in the order and exempt from mandate. Other workplaces are asked to shift to a telework and work from home model.


The Governor issued a stay at home order, set to take effect at 5pm on April 3rd and will remain in place until 8am April 20. Individuals are to stay at home except for the limited allowances in the executive order. All non-essential businesses are to stop all activities other than those necessary for minimum operations and enabling people to work from home. Essential business or operation may operate to provide essential services as long as they do not subject to any 10-person gathering limitation or any other limitation or restriction inconsistent with the executive order. Businesses deemed essential are defined in the executive order.


The Governor issued an executive order requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all nonessential businesses and operations, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 28. A list of essential businesses and operations and “Social Distancing Requirements for Essential Businesses and Operations” are listed within the order.


A March 20 Order directs all non-essential businesses to close through April 16. The construction, mining, manufacturing, and infrastructure sector labor force may continue operations, but shall maintain strict social distancing practices to facilitate a minimum of six feet of separation between workers, and to adopt policies and practices that ensure minimum contact between the workforce and the general public. Businesses not delineated in the Order or in regulations promulgated under it may continue operations, not to include retail sales, if they are able to implement social distancing safeguards for the protection of their employees.

New Hampshire

Emergency Order #17 orders the closure of in-person operations of nonessential businesses. The State of New Hampshire has compiled a list of industry sectors that provide essential services, such as “workers who maintain, ensure, or restore the reliable generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power,” which are permitted to continue to operate with necessary staff to complete critical and essential functions. If the function of your business is not listed, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business by contacting with basic contact information and a brief justification.

New Jersey

Executive Order 107 mandates New Jersey residents to stay at home except when obtaining essential services. The Order also closes all non-essential retail businesses, but allows certain workers, including construction workers and utility workers, to report to their jobs, provided that business must make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue, and practice social distancing.

The BPU March 19 Order provides that all public utilities and regulated entities must cease any home or business visits unless doing so would pose immediate risk to health and safety of residents, and that all door-to-door sales activity by Third Party Suppliers or other sales-persons selling energy or energy related products (for example: residential solar, community solar, or energy efficiency offerings) be suspended immediately.

New Mexico

On March 23, Governor Lujan-Grisham issued an Order closes all non-essential businesses and requires 100 percent of the state's non-essential workforce to work from home. Solar is not specifically mentioned in the order, but “commercial and residential facility construction and maintenance” is considered essential.

New York

Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7  and 202.8 require reducing workers at on-site work sites by 100 percent effective on Sunday, March 22 at 8 PM, except for those businesses/non-profits designated as “essential.” Guidance from the State Economic Development agency lists out “essential” businesses. The latest NY Empire State Development & NYSERDA guidance on essential activities clarifies that “new generation, new energy storage, new construction and new EV infrastructure” are non-essential. Renewable energy construction, energy storage, or activities related to the continued operation of renewable energy projects in the service of critical infrastructure including but not limited to transit facilities, health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters is considered essential construction work. Certain utility work and utility scale solar work with an in-service date before September 1 is also considered essential.

North Carolina

Executive Order 120, released March 23, restricts the operation of several nonessential businesses and limits gatherings to 50 people or less. The Governor later released order 121 which went into effect on March 30. Leaving the home and travel for essential activities is permitted, and essential businesses can stay open. The order adopts CISA version 2 which identifies essential critical infrastructure workers. This includes those supporting the energy sector through renewable energy infrastructure, including those supporting construction, manufacturing, transportation, permitting, operation/maintenance, monitoring, and logistics. While Cooper’s order applies statewide, if there are stricter guidelines imposed by a county or municipality, those supersede what the state is calling for.


March 22 Order directs residents to stay in their homes, requires all businesses and operations in the State, except Essential Businesses and Operations to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations.  Essential businesses must follow social distancing protocols. Essential businesses and operations include those in the DHS March 19 Order and certain others, including those providing Essential Infrastructure and Critical Trades.


On March 23, an Executive Order was released. The order calls for residents to stay home, closes certain businesses and orders tele-work and work-at-home by employees. Construction and manufacturing, for example, may continue so long as they “ensure that their employees are maintaining social distancing measures."


A March 19 Order prohibits the “Operation of Businesses that are not Life Sustaining.”  An updated list of life-sustaining businesses that are allowed to remain open was provided on March 24th. Businesses that are ordered closed but believe they could help mitigate this crisis by providing a life-sustaining service may apply for a waiver to re-open.

Puerto Rico

On March 30th, Governor Wanda Vazquez issued an executive order strengthening the island’s surveillance and disclosure system, valid March 31st through April 12th.  The region is currently declared under "lockdown", and any citizen not covered under any of the specific exemptions described in the order in pages 5-7 may only leave their homes between 5 am and 7pm for essential activities. Businesses dedicated to essential services as identified in page 5 of the order may remain open.

Rhode Island

On March 28, Governor Raimondo issued an executive order mandating that residents stay at home. The order went into effect on March 30 and  will extend until April 13. The order bans gathering of more than five people, including mandating all non-critical retail business to cease in-person operations. Stores and businesses identified as critical by the Department of Business Regulation can remain open.

South Carolina

A March 23 executive order prohibits public gatherings of three or more people. Normal business activity is exempt.


On March 31, Governor Bill Lee issued a Safer at Home order that will be in effect from March 31 at 11:59pm - April 14 at 11:59 pm. This is different from a “Shelter in place” order in that it is not a mandatory order for citizens to stay home. However, businesses that are not deemed essential under Gov. Lee’s order must now close but are still encouraged to provide delivery and curbside service if they adhere to social distancing guidelines.


Governor Greg Abbot released an executive order mandating Texans to stay at home from Aril 2 through April 30, subject to extension based on the status of COVID-19 in Texas. People are ordered to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services. Essential services consists of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0. Other essential services may be added to the EO with the approval of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). Requests for additions should be directed here.


As of March 25, all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery can continue.


On March 23 an Executive Order, effective at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23, 2020, orders the closure of certain non-essential businesses and bans all gatherings of more than 10 people. Professional businesses not listed in the order must utilize telework as much as possible and where telework is not feasible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing procedures, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities, including CDCOSHA, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. The March 30th Stay at Home order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances, but does not alter what businesses are deemed essential or nonessential as outlined in Executive Order 53. A FAQ guide about Executive Order 53 can be found here.


A March 23 Order requires everyone to stay at home unless they need to pursue an essential activity. All gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes are also banned. The governor has designated essential critical infrastructure workers exempt, including “Workers needed for hydroelectric, biofuels, biogas, geothermal energy, wind, biomass, solar and coal energy generation. All businesses except essential business will need to be closed within 48 hours. On March 25th the Governor released additional guidance for construction, which suggests commercial and residential construction is not considered to be an essential activity. The guidance memo can be found here.

West Virginia

On March 23, an Executive Order was released, effective March 24, 2020, at 8:00 p.m, directing all West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs, ​except Essential Businesses and Operations. Essential businesses and operations include those in the DHS March 19 Order and certain others, including “Essential Infrastructure” and “Critical Trades."


On March 23, an Executive Order was released, effective at 8 am on Weds., March 25, 2020 and in effect until 8 am Fri., April 24, 2020, that directs Wisconsin residents to stay at home and non-essential businesses to cease. The order contains detailed information regarding the exemptions provided to certain businesses. If a business is unsure about whether or not they are exempted from this order, please contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation here.

Aware of Additional Statewide Closure Orders?
Send Them to Us

Local Closure Orders

This list contains local closures in SEIA's priority states, and is not intended to be exhaustive

  • Governor Newsom has issued a statewide Shelter-in-Place order.
  • San Francisco,  Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties issued updated Shelter in Place Orders on March 31 which for each jurisdiction “clarifies, strengthens, and extends certain terms of the Prior Shelter Order.” The new Orders further restrict construction. SEIA recommends that companies that may wish to continue installation or construction of solar and/or solar + storage projects review local orders in consultation with their legal counsel before proceeding, and follow any direct instructions received from local officials.
  • Los Angeles – March 19 Safer-at-Home Order requires residents to isolate themselves in their residences and businesses to cease operations, except as specified, including to work on essential infrastructure.
  • Many other California counties such as Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado issued similar Shelter-in-Place Orders preceding the Governor’s statewide order on March 21.

City of Gainesville and all of Alachua County issued a Stay at Home Order on March 23rd. The order exempts ongoing construction, electrical production and distribution services, and businesses employing 5 or less persons.


Boston & Cambridge – bans on construction until further notice. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is asking solar firms to immediately cease door-to-door campaigns and has asked SEIA to inform its member companies.

North Carolina

City of Charlotte and all of Mecklenburg County issued a Shelter in Place Order on March 24th. The order exempts construction, electrical power generation, distribution, and production of raw materials.


Tarrant County issued a declaration with limitations on gatherings and social business restrictions. The Declaration does not apply to businesses providing Essential Services.

State Closures Page Additional Resources