Press Releases

What constitutes an “Essential Business” Qualification?

Monday, 23 March, 2020

One of the key questions we are getting at the moment from Memphis area companies is how to determine whether or not they are considered an essential business. While this information is fluid, below we have outlined how essential businesses are classified as of March 19, 2020.

With the potential of current recommendations from federal, state, and local officials around business closings potentially turning into more universal “orders” and “mandates” in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, determining what institutions will be deemed as “essential” and thereby allowed to remain open is critical.

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The best information we currently have to inform this process for the Memphis area is available from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) which executes the DHS Secretary’s responsibilities to provide strategic guidance, promote national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure.

CISA has developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help state and local officials.  While the list is a start, they advise that it should not be viewed as a “federal directive” or “exhaustive” in outlining critical infrastructure sectors and functions that should continue.  The document emphasizes that “state and local officials should use their own judgment in using their authorities and issuing implementation directives and guidance.”

The clear need is determining what additional business sector entities or support organizations (consider support services and functions needed to ensure the viability of essential businesses) should be considered as exempt from any future mandated closing.  

The Chamber looks forward to serving as a resource and thought partner in this space.


Questions regarding qualification of your business for essential status? Contact Bobby White

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