More Stay at Home Orders in U.S.: COVID-19 Transportation Update - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Non-Essential Business Closures & Stay at Home Orders

Governors across the U.S. have been issuing executive orders closing non-essential businesses and requiring residents to stay at home. The for-hire and ground transportation industry has been asking if they are considered essential business that are exempt from such restrictions. Most states—including California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—have deemed taxis and private transportation providers to be essential businesses. For example, in New York State, for-hire vehicles and buses have been identified as part of “essential transportation infrastructure.” This is compared to states like Louisiana, where the governor’s order does not provide specific guidance to transportation providers.  

Many states are following U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance on identifying essential businesses and workers. The CISA list identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure, which includes transportation and logistics. The CISA guidelines do not specifically address private/for-hire passenger ground transportation. However, essential transportation workers include employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including dispatchers. 

Below are summaries of the state COVID-19 executive orders and what they mean for for-hire ground transportation companies.

On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20, requiring all Californians, with limited exceptions, to stay at home indefinitely beginning March 19 and closing non-essential businesses. The order provides exceptions to maintain Essential Critical Infrastructure, which includes transportation and logistics such as taxi and delivery drivers, as well as mass transit workers, private and public postal shipping workers, and employees of automotive repair and maintenance facilities.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lemont issued Executive Order No. 7H, implementing telecommuting and closures of non-essential businesses or not-for-profit entities, effective 8 p.m. on March 23 through April 22, 2020. Non-essential businesses or not-for-profit entities must reduce in-person workforce at any workplace locations by 100% not later than March 23, 2020 at 8:00 pm. Essential businesses include transportation infrastructure.  Additional guidance from the governor’s office is available here:

Delaware Governor John Carney ordered residents to stay at home unless engaged in essential activities or work for an essential business and closed nonessential businesses in the state indefinitely beginning March 24 at 8 a.m.  Designated essential businesses include taxi and for-hire transportation, except that “ride-sharing services are not permitted.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-10 requiring all Illinoisans to stay in their homes unless they are working at an essential business or are doing an essential activity and closing all nonessential establishments from March 21 at 5 p.m. through April 7, 2020. Essential services specifically include taxis, TNCs, vehicle rental service, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation. According to guidance issued by the governor’s office, “ridesharing should be used for essential travel only.”  (Note: The Illinois order largely mirrors that of Indiana and Ohio.)

On March 23, Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued an Executive Order No. 20-08 requiring Hoosiers remain in their homes unless engaged in essential work or activities and requiring all non-essential businesses to cease all activities within the state except minimum basic operations. Under the order, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers are deemed necessary for providing essential activities and other purposes. According to guidance issued by the state, taxis and ridesharing should be used for essential travel only. The order is effective March 24 at 11:59 p.m. until April 6, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (Note: The Indiana order largely mirrors that of Illinois and Ohio.)

On March 22, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued Executive Order No. 2020-246 requiring all retail businesses that are not life sustaining to close to in-person traffic indefinitely starting March 23 at 8 p.m. Life-sustaining retail businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations and other businesses that provide staple goods. The order does not address for-hire ground transportation.

On March 22, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statewide Stay at Home order restricting people from leaving their homes except to obtain essential goods and services, such as food, medicine, and medical care from March 23 to April 13, 2020, unless extended. The order directs all non-essential business (as identified in the order) to close, these include amusement parks, hair salons, malls, and similar places where large groups would gather. All other business must follow social distancing guidelines and adhere to the 10-person limit on gathering size that applies to public places. There is no specific guidance on transportation companies.

Maryland Governor Lawrence Hogan issued Executive Order No. 20-03-23-01 closing all non-essential businesses, organizations, and facilities in Maryland effective 5 p.m. March 24 until further notice. The order requires the closure of anything that is not included in the CISA’s guidelines for critical infrastructure sectors, which includes transportation. Taxis, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), and other private passenger ground transportation are not identified in the state’s interpretive guidance.

On March 23, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public beginning March 24 at noon through April 7, 2020, at noon. The goods and services designated as “COVID-19 Essential Services” under the order include transportation and logistics operations necessary to support or enable transportation functions. COVID-19 Essential Services that should continue operations include employees supporting or enabling transportation functions—e.g., dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, workers that maintain and inspect infrastructure—and workers critical to operating rental car companies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) that facilitate continuity of operations for essential workforces, and other essential travel. 

On March 23, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a “Stay Home, Stay Safe'” executive order that goes into effect March 24 at midnight and runs through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Under Executive Order 2020-21, only “critical infrastructure workers” may leave their homes to work, and in-person activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life must be suspended. The order states that critical infrastructure workers are those workers listed in the CISA guidance and include “some workers” in various sectors, including transportation. Neither the order or the CISA guidelines address private/for-hire passenger ground transportation. 

On March 21, the Health Commissioner of the City of St. Louis issued Order #5, ordering all residents in the city to stay at home unless they are engaged in essential activities identified in the order, effective 6:00 p.m. on March 23 to 6:00 p.m. on April 22, 2020. Essential activities include working in an essential business, which includes transportation, such as taxis and other private transportation providers.

The City of Kansas City, MO, issued a Stay at Home order effective March 24 through April 23, 2020. The order requires Kansas City residents to stay at home unless they are engaged in one of the essential activities specified in the order. Essential activities include working in an essential business, which includes transportation, such as taxis and other private transportation providers.

* As of March 24, 2020, the State of Missouri has not issued a statewide executive order requiring residents stay at home or closing non-essential businesses. 

New Jersey
Effective March 21, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107 requiring New Jersians to stay at home (with some exceptions) and ordering the shutdown or partial shutdown of certain businesses indefinitely. New Jersians must stay home unless they are “reporting to, or performing, their job.” The “brick-and-mortar premises” of non-essential retail businesses must close to the public and all businesses must allow their workers to work from home wherever practicable. According to guidance provided on the governor’s office, “work at construction sites may continue, as can manufacturing, trucking, and transportation operations.” 

New Mexico
On March 23, 2020, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel issued a public health emergency order, closing all businesses and nonprofit entities except for those deemed essential effective March 24 at 8 a.m. Under the order, essential businesses include taxis and private transportation providers. The order remains in effect until the statewide emergency order is lifted.

New York
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.8, which requires all employers in the state to reduce the in-person workforce at any work locations by 100% no later than March 22 at 8 p.m. through April 19, 2020. Essential businesses and entities are not subject to the in-person restriction. According to guidance issued by the state, essential businesses include essential infrastructure, specifically transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages. 

The New York State Department of Economic Development d/b/a Empire State Development issued guidance to assist businesses in determining whether they are an essential business and steps to request such designation if they are not. With respect to business or entities that operate or provide both essential and non-essential services, supplies or support, only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions.

On March 22, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the state’s Health Department issued a Stay at Home order, directing residents to remain in their homes unless engaged in essential work or activities and requiring all non-essential businesses to cease all activities within the state except minimum basic operations. Under the order, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers are deemed necessary for essential activities and other purposes. According to guidance issued by the Health Department, ridesharing should be used for essential travel only. The order is effective 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 23 until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. (Note: The Ohio order largely mirrors that of Illinois and Indiana.)

On March 19, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close starting at 8 a.m. on March 23 until further notice. According to guidance provided by the governor’s office, the list of life sustaining businesses include all transportation businesses, including taxis, limousines, and other passenger ground transportation except for charter bus and scenic and sightseeing. 

Gov. Wolf also issued a Stay at Home order for seven counties: Allegheny County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Monroe County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. The Stay at Home order went into effect March 23 at 8 p.m., and will continue until April 6, 2020. Life-sustaining business activities are exempt from this policy.

On March 23, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53 urging Virginians to limit all non-essential travel outside the home and requiring businesses designated as non-essential to close to worker, customer, and the public from March 24 at 11:59 p.m. until on April 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. The non-essential businesses are limited to recreation and entertainment businesses (theaters, gyms, salons, bowling alleys, etc.). Certain retail businesses are designated as essential (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) and may remain open; all other brick-and-mortar retail business must limit their operations to ten patrons or less with adequate social distancing and sanitizing. Non-retail businesses must implement work-from-home policies to the extent possible. For-hire ground transportation is not addressed one way or the other in the order or guidance issued by the state

On March 24, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a “Stay at Home, Stay Healthy" order requiring Washingtonians to stay at home, except for people engaged in essential activities and going to work at an essential business, among other limited exceptions. The order follows federal CISA guidelines for essential critical infrastructure, which includes the transportation sector. According to guidance issued by the governor’s office, essential transportation systems sector includes, among other subsectors, commercial vehicles including motorcoaches and school buses; taxis; transportation services including Transportation Network Companies; and delivery services including Delivery Network Companies. The order remains in effect until midnight on April 6, 2020, unless extended.

West Virginia
On March 23, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued a Stay at Home order for the entire state starting March 24 at 8:00 p.m. Executive Order No. 9-20 order directs all West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes to essential activities and to work at essential business or jobs that provide or support essential services and activities. The order relies on essential workforce guidance provided by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).  According to guidance provided by the governor’s office, essential businesses and services include taxi and rideshare providers such as Uber and Lyft; public transportation and ridesharing will be for essential travel only.