On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order that required all people living in California to stay at home:

To protect public health, I as State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health order all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, as outlined at:


What is a critical infrastructure sector, and which businesses fall into these categories?

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) website sets forth critical infrastructure sectors, but is not exactly clear on which types of businesses it covers:

This document gives guidance to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.

The CISA lists the following sectors as essential critical infrastructure:

Chemical Sector

Commercial Facilities Sector

Communications Sector

Critical Manufacturing Sector

Dams Sector

Defense Industrial Base Sector

Emergency Services Sector

Energy Sector

Financial Services Sector

Food and Agriculture Sector

Government Facilities Sector

Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Information Technology Sector

Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector

Transportation Systems Sector

Water and Wastewater Systems Sector


The California COVID-19 response website provides a very clear explanation of which businesses are considered essential services and can remain open during the stay-at-home order:

What can I do? What’s open?

Essential services will remain open, such as:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

What’s closed?

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Gyms and fitness studios
  • Public events and gatherings
  • Convention Centers
  • Hair and nail salons

If your business operates on one of the exempt sectors, there is no need to obtain a letter to continue to operate from the government.  Continue to operate while still complying with the CDC, OSHA and other guidelines about safe operations (links to useful resources on this topic can be found at our prior post here).