Are HVAC Distributors Considered 'Essential' During a Pandemic?

BY Alex Ayers
3/20/2020 - HVAC Government Affairs , COVID-19

With the continued community spread of COVID-19 across the country many state and local officials have started to close non-essential businesses and issue shelter-in-place orders to prevent further spread. Several of these orders have not been clear in deterring what businesses are and are not essential. HARDI early in the week joined the rest of the HVACR industry in calling on state and local officials to declare the HVACR industry essential and sent a letter to governors and mayors with this request

In addition to state and local efforts, we reached out to the COVID-19 Taskforce run by Vice President Pence. While the federal government has little authority to quarantine areas, we did ask them to release guidance on essential businesses for local governments to use. Yesterday the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the Department of Homeland Security issued a memo for all state and local officials with recommendations to determine essential businesses. Under the memo all wholesale-distribution of HVACR is considered essential:

"Employees of firms providing services that enable logistics operations, including cooling, storing, packaging, and distributing products for wholesale or retail sale or use."

Additionally tasks like ensure ongoing building operation and the sanitation and essential operation of residences are also considered essential to protect technicians and contractors. This memo is being used by state governments already as last nights order by Governor Newsom of California directly pointed to this memo. 

While states and local officials are not required to use the CISA memo, we know from already released guidance from various shelter-in-place orders that governments are supporting HVACR as essential. For the most part every order we’ve seen has been based around two things:

1. Non-essential business closures are targeted at entertainment/social businesses that typically have crowds

2. When an area increases the lockdown to only allowing essential businesses to remain open, distribution has been cleared as essential to supply the technicians work on a variety of equipment including hospitals and grocery stores systems.

If your area is developing plans to implement shelter-in-place orders, please share with them the CISA memo and our industry letter to ensure your business is considered essential.

You may also provide a 'Critical Industry Employee Authorization to Travel' letter (template) to your employees.

State by State guidance:
California - statewide following CISA memo

New York