What is an “Essential” Business?

Date: March 24, 2020

Governor’s order shutters businesses statewide March 26, 2020

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a “Stay at Home – Stay Healthy” Proclamation (executive order) effective midnight, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, through midnight, April 6. Basically, this is similar to the shelter-in-place directives already imposed in more than a dozen other states.

Among other things, the Proclamation requires closure of all “non-essential” businesses. “Essential” businesses are encouraged to remain open so long as social-distancing and enhanced sanitation measures can be implemented. Those businesses are expected to comply with specific OSHA guidance and state Department of Health recommendations.

So, what is an “essential” business? A full list of “essential” business and workforce descriptions is available here. It includes business operations such as (partial list):

  • Auto supplies and repair
  • Banking and financial services
  • Childcare facilities
  • Farm and other agricultural operations, including veterinary services, food processing, packaging, warehousing, and distribution
  • Gas stations and truck stops
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies, including farmers markets, convenience stores, and retail or liquor stores selling food products
  • Hardware and home improvement, garden stores and nurseries that support food cultivation and production
  • Health care facilities
  • Home appliance retailers
  • Laundromats and laundry services
  • Office supply stores that support working-from-home
  • Pet food and supply stores
  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting and tax preparation services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and critical sector services
  • Restaurants providing carry out, delivery, or quick service operations
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Utility providers, maintenance, operations support, and related activities

To clarify your business status, or to petition to be added to the list, please email: [email protected]

Other State Resources
  • Washington State Coronavirus Response page, includes statistics, news, general information, and links to various state and federal programs
  • Department of Labor & Industries coronavirus page provides summary information and links related to workplace safety and health, paid sick and safe leave, workers’ compensation, and regional office status
  • Department of Revenue’s business relief information related to tax filing obligations, extensions, late filings, penalties and interest, payment plans, audits, and business licensing
NFIB National Link

All of NFIB’s coronavirus-related national news, resources, webinars, and federal lobbying efforts can be found in one place, www.nfib.com/coronavirus. A sample of the information you will find there includes:

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“Essential” businesses are encouraged to remain open so long as social-distancing and enhanced sanitation measures can be implemented.

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