Stay-at-home orders and “essential” businesses

Updated on 3/23/20 at 2:30 p.m. EDT

The work truck industry has always played an important role in society. The trucks, truck bodies and equipment produced by our industry keep North America moving and safe.

  • At this time, there is no federal order closing businesses, and the federal government has not indicated it expects to order such shutdowns.
  • There are a number of shutdown/stay-at-home orders at the state and local level. These orders are based on local considerations and vary in scope.
  • This is an extremely fluid situation that’s changing on a daily basis.
  • At this point in time, we know at least 12 states have issued stay-at-home orders.
  • Thus far, shutdown orders include exemptions of some sort for “essential” operations. 

Unfortunately, as these orders are issued at the state and local level, there is no consistency regarding scope of what constitutes an essential business or service. These decisions are being made locally — based, presumably, on a determination that the importance to society of the goods or services provided by the exempted entity outweighs any potential danger to the entity’s workers and society of their continued operation.

We encourage work truck industry companies to conduct a thorough analysis of their business operations in the context of their local authority’s decisions and guidance from Department of Homeland Security discussed below. Based on your analysis and knowledge of how your services contribute to the continued operation of vital services, work directly with your local authorities to make the best decisions for your community and employees.

Federal government
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance on March 19 regarding stay-at-home orders and essential businesses. Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response is based on DHS’s existing critical infrastructure program.

While the memo provides guidance to state and local authorities and advises they work directly with their industry partners, it still leaves them with the final decisions.

With regard to the work truck industry, we suggest reviewing the two following critical sectors in particular.

Critical Manufacturing

  • Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. This specifically includes transportation equipment manufacturing.

Transportation and Logistics

  • Employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers that maintain and inspect infrastructure (including those that require cross-border travel).
  • Automotive repair and maintenance facilities — noted in the DHS memo — include employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers.

While the DHS memo provides guidance on who could be considered “essential,” it gives discretion to state and local officials to identify critical infrastructure sectors and issue their own directives and guidance. It also explicitly directs states to work with “industry partners” to ensure “continued operations of critical infrastructure.” Visit to view critical infrastructure sectors.

Find additional information

State examples
Following are examples of stay-at-home orders and resources from a few of the larger and earlier adopting states. Look to your own state’s governor’s office or state homepage for up-to-date information.



New York