As the implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic have spread across regions, countries, states and provinces, and municipalities, governmental authorities have implemented increasingly aggressive measures to restrict business operations as a means of diminishing the numbers of people working in proximity to each other and of customers and others interacting with businesses.  As of March 24, 2020, at least 175 million people in the United States are subject to stay-at-home orders, including state-wide orders in 17 states, as well as orders in US counties and cities throughout another 9 states and, as announced today, the District of Columbia.  Media reports indicate that, in total, nearly half of Americans are being told to stay home currently.  Worldwide, temporary frameworks and restrictions to stem the outbreak are similarly being issued by multiple governments, across regions.

Mayer Brown’s COVID-19 Essential Business team is tracking and reporting on these developments on our COVID-19 Portal and this blog on a global basis.

Continuing Expansion of Jurisdictions Issuing Stay-at-Home and Border Control Restrictions

  • The trend started with restrictions of large gatherings at sporting events, concerts and theater performances but has evolved to closures of what are defined as non-essential businesses, such as personal gyms, hair salons, and restaurants (except for carry-out services).
  • The latest wave of business restrictions in the United States stem from “stay-at-home” orders. These began in San Francisco but late last week expanded to state-wide orders from governors in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington, and Indiana.
  • Since that first wave of orders, other states, including West Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon, New Mexico, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, and Idaho, as well as the District of Columbia, have followed suit, some including state-wide orders, and others addressing parts of their state. Not surprisingly these orders are somewhat unique to each jurisdiction, and, as a result, they do not take a consistent approach in defining what are essential versus non-essential businesses. For example, some states have been very specific in defining each type of financial institution that would be considered essential and therefore not required to close, whereas others generally refer to banks as essential, but not other types of financial services providers.
  • On a global basis, business and travel restrictions (tracked on Mayer Brown’s Global Travel Navigator) have been taken in over 100 locations, with lockdown measures announced across regions, including in  China, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Brazil, Peru, Singapore, and South Korea. In late-breaking news earlier this week, on March 23, 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • These initiatives are giving rise to ancillary questions such as how many employees can essential businesses maintain on site (i.e., who constitutes an essential employee of an essential business) and what types of measures have to be taken to ensure the health and safety of such employees given CDC, WHO, and other guidance.  Mayer Brown has been and will continue to be following these developments closely.

If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com