Several jurisdictions recently imposed restrictions to limit the size of gatherings and close or reduce in-person operations of various “non-essential businesses,” all in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 through increased social distancing. Below, we summarize the restrictions and the exceptions for “essential businesses” applicable to Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, and Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, CA. Because these public health recommendations (and in some cases, mandatory orders) are issued from the state and local/county/municipal levels of government, they are not uniform across the U.S., and their definitions of “essential businesses” may differ from state to state and from city to city. Close attention to the specific terms of these local and state department of health issuances is therefore critical. We offer this compendium in order both to give some current information about these local orders, as well as to demonstrate how these orders may differ from city to city. In making operational decisions about business continuity in these cities, do not rely on this document for anything other than as a starting point – it is a work in progress, and may be outdated quickly. Please refer to the website of your local and state departments of health for the most current information.

  • Boston, MA
    • Gatherings of over 25 people prohibited effective March 17, 2020 – April 5, 2020. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Order March 17, 2020.
    • Restaurants/bars are take-out only effective March 17, 2020 – April 5, 2020. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Order March 17, 2020.
    • Effective March 17, 2020, construction work suspended unless “essential work,” which includes emergency utility, road or building work (e.g., gas/water leaks); new utility connections to occupied buildings; mandated building or utility work; work at public health facilities, including health care facilities and shelters; work that ensures reliability of transportation network; and other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully hospitable. City to review requests for exceptions on case-by-case basis. Employees should maintain necessary crews to keep sites safe and secure, prevent materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing. Work must be completed by March 23, 2020. City of Boston order.
  • Chicago, IL
    • Gatherings of over 50 people cancelled effective March 18, 2020. Exec. Order 2020-07.
    • Gatherings include community, civic, public leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, and similar events bringing 50 people in same place. Includes fitness centers/health clubs, bowling alleys and theaters.
      • Does not include venues that provide essential goods or services such as grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations, banks/credit unions, and shelters. Exec. Order 2020-07.
    • Restaurants/bars are takeout only effective March 16, 2020 – March 30, 2020. Exec. Order 2020-07.
    • Businesses and employers encouraged to work from home. Chicago Dept. of Public Health guidance.
  • Washington, D.C.
    • Gatherings of over 50 people prohibited effective March 16, 2020 (limited to 10 people if primarily serving persons age 60 and older or with serious medical conditions or are immunocompromised). DC Mayor Order 2020-048 (Mar. 16, 2020).
      • Prohibition does not include (i) public/private schools, including child care facilities, so long as children are in classrooms, not auditoriums or gyms; (ii) spaces associated with public transit; (iii) office space, hotels, or residential buildings; (iv) grocery stores, malls, or other retail establishments where large number of people are present, but unusual to be within arm’s length; and (v) hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other medical facilities.
    • Restaurants/bars are takeout only effective March 16, 2020 – April 1, 2020. Id.
    • Nightclubs, multi-purpose facilities, health clubs, health spas, massage establishments, and theaters must suspend operations beginning March 17, 2020. Id.
  • Los Angeles, CA
    • Gatherings of over 50 people prohibited effective March 16, 2020 – April 1, 2020. Order applies to conferences, arenas, stadiums, convention centers, and meeting spaces, among others. Gatherings of 10-49 people required to enforce six feet social distancing, provide access to handwashing, post signs not to enter if any symptoms, and adhere to county’s cleaning guidance. LA County Order (Mar. 16, 2020).
      • Prohibition does not apply to “essential activities.” Essential activities include (i) regular school classes, work, or essential services locations; (ii) grocery stores or retail stores; (iii) pharmacies; (iv) airports and public transit; (v) hospitals or health care facilities; (vi) schools and universities/colleges; and (vii) congregate living situations, including dormitories.
    • Restaurant/bars takeout only effective March 16, 2020 – April 1, 2020. Id.
    • Nightclubs and bars not serving food, gyms and fitness centers, movie, theaters, bowling alleys, and arcades to close effective March 16, 2020 – April 1, 2020. Id.
  • NYC
    • Gatherings of over 50 people prohibited effective March 16, 2020 (order also applies to Connecticut and New Jersey). NY Dept. of Health: Latest Updates (as of March 16, 2020).
      • Strongly advise only essential services and businesses stay open after March 16, 2020, including groceries, gas stations, pharmacies, and medical facilities. Id.
    • Restaurants/bars takeout only, provided that establishments do not exceed 50% capacity for patrons waiting for food effective March 16, 2020. NYC Emergency Executive Order No. 100.
    • All entertainment venues closed, including for capacity below 500 and commercial gyms effective March 16, 2020. Id.
    • New York City Health and Hospitals Corporate to immediately cancel or postpone elective procedures system-wide and cease performing within 96 hours of issuance of Order. Other hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in NYC directed to do same. Id.
      • Procedures are to be deemed “electives” by assessing which procedures can be postponed or cancelled based on patient risk considering emergency need to redirect resources.
  • San Diego, CA
    • Gatherings of over 50 people prohibited effective March 17, 2020 – March 31, 2020. Includes confined indoor or outdoor space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, theater, church, casino, and cafeteria. County of San Diego, Amended Order of the Health Officer and Emergency Regulations, Mar. 17, 2020.
      • All non-essential gatherings are strongly discouraged. Strongly recommend all persons who are 65 or older, have a chronic underlying condition, or a have a compromised immune system self-quarantine at home.
      • Does not prohibit operations at airports, public transportation or other spaces where 50 or more persons may be in transit but able to practice social distancing; essential businesses where many people are present but able to practice social distancing; or emergency shelters, homeless shelters, or other similarly essential gatherings that are for the protection of public health and safety and where appropriate precautions are taken that follow federal, state, and local public health guidance.
    • Restaurants/bars takeout only. Bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and not food are closed. Id.
    • All businesses shall enact social distancing. All businesses shall suspend policies requiring doctor verification for sick leave. Id.
    • Public and private schools, colleges, and universities shall not hold classes or other school activities where students gather on school campus. Id.
    • Hospitals and health care providers shall take measures to preserve resources, including delaying non-emergent or elective surgeries where feasible and shall report COVID-19 test results immediately. Id.
    • Non-essential personnel prohibited entrance into hospital or long-term care facility. Id.
      • Non-essential personnel include employees, contractors or members of the public who do not perform treatment, maintenance, support, or administrative tasks deemed essential to the health care mission of the long-term care facility or hospital. Non-essential personnel do not include first responders or state, federal, or local officials, investigators, or medical personnel carrying out lawful duties. Entry of visitors at long-term care facilities is allowed upon approval of facility’s director or designee for purpose of allowing visits to residents for end-of-life care, or parents or guardians to visit a child who is a patient.
  • San Francisco, CA (identical obligations for the following Bay Area jurisdictions: City of Berkeley and AlamedaContra CostaMarinSan Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties)
    • Gatherings of any size outside home prohibited effective March 17, 2020 – April 7, 2020. Self-isolation ordered to extent feasible while allowing essential services to continue. City and County of San Francisco, Order C19-07.
    • Restaurants/cafes takeout only effective March 17, 2020 – April 7, 2020. Id.
    • Bars and nightclubs; gyms and recreation facilities ordered closed effective March 17, 2020 – April 7, 2020. Id.
    • Employers in SF that do not provide Essential Businesses or Essential Government Functions must cease activities at offices except Minimum Basic Operations and take all steps necessary for employees to work remotely from home to extent possible effective March 17, 2020 – April 7, 2020. Essential Businesses encouraged to stay open. Id.
      • Essential Business includes (i) Healthcare Operations and Essential Infrastructure; (ii) grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments selling groceries and other consumer products; (iii) food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing; (iv) businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services to needy individuals; (v) newspapers, television, radio, and other media services; (vi) gas stations and auto supply, auto repair, and related facilities; (vii) banks and related financial institutions; (viii) hardware stores; (ix) plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers necessary to maintaining safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses; (x) businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes and those that ship groceries, food, and goods or services direct to residences; (xi) educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions, provided that social distancing of six feet per person is maintained to extent possible; (xii) restaurants, but only for delivery or carry-out; schools that typically provide free food on pick-up and take-away basis only; (xiii) businesses supplying products to work from home; (xiv) airlines, taxis and other private transportation providers providing services necessary for Essential Activities; (xv) home-based care; (xvi) residential facilities and shelters; (xvii) professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities; and (xviii) childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in this Order to work as permitted; to extent possible, children should be in consistent groups of 12 children or fewer, with groups/providers for groups not mixing.
      • Minimum Basic Operations includes the following, provided that employees comply with social distancing elements of six feet between persons and handwashing: (i) the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions; and (ii) the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
      • Essential Government Functions means all services needed for ensuring continuing operation of government agencies and provide for health, safety, and welfare of public.
      • Healthcare Operations include: hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary health care services. “Healthcare Operations” also includes veterinary care. Exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to delivery of health care. Does not include gyms.
      • Essential Infrastructure means public works construction, construction of housing, airport operations, utilities, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, waste removal, and internet and telecommunication systems, provided that six feet of separation between persons and handwashing are maintained.
    • People may leave their homes only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses. All travel, including travel on foot, bicycle, car, and public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities, is prohibited. Public transit allowed only to and from work to Essential Businesses or to maintain Essential Governmental Functions.
      • Essential Activities include (i) activities essential to health/safety of individual, family, household members, or pets, such as obtaining medical supplies, visiting health care professional, or obtaining supplies to work from home; (ii) activities to obtain necessary services or supplies for individual, family, and household, such as groceries and household consumer products needed for safety, sanitation and essential operation of residence; (iii) outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, or running, provided that handwashing and six feet of separation between persons are maintained; (iv) to perform work providing essential products to an Essential Business; and (v) caring for family member or pet in another household.
      • Essential Travel includes travel for any of following purposes: (i) Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, Essential Businesses, or Minimum Basic Operations; (ii) travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons; (iii) travel to or from educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning, receiving materials, and related services; (iv) travel to a place of residence outside of jurisdiction; (v) travel required by law enforcement/court order; and (vi) travel required for non-residents to return to place of residence outside the county.
      • Residences include hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities.
    • Limitations on visit rights to hospitals. City and County of San Francisco, Order C19-06.
  • Philadelphia, PA
    • Only essential commercial establishments may remain open, effective March 17, 2020 through at least March 27, 2019. See City of Phila. Press Release Dated March 16, 2020.
      • The following are designated essential businesses: (i) supermarkets and grocery stores; (ii) big box stores; (iii) pharmacies; (iv) discount stores, mini-markets, and non-specialized food stores; (v) daycare centers; (vi) hardware stores; (vii) gas stations; (viii) banks; (ix) post offices; (x) laundromats and dry cleaners; and (xi) veterinary clinics for domestic pets and pet stores. Id.
      • Also deemed essential are commercial establishments selling any of the following: frozen products; non-specialized stores of computers, telecommunications equipment, audio and video consumer electronics, household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; hardware, paint, flat glass; electrical, plumbing and heating material; automotive fuel; domestic fuel; sanitary equipment; personal hygiene products and medication not requiring prescription; medical and orthopedic equipment; optics and photography equipment; and soaps and detergents. Id.
      • Food establishments may accommodate online and phone orders for delivery and pick-up, but cannot allow dine-in service. Id.
      • City government buildings will be closed to the public, effective March 17, 2020. Non-essential city government operations will stop effective March 18, 2020. Id.
        • Essential city government operations include: public safety, health and human services, utilities, sanitation and payroll. Id.
    • Statewide measures apply throughout Pennsylvania, but businesses in Philadelphia County should follow the City’s guidance (above). See Gov. Wolf Updated Guidance, as of March 16, 2020.
      • All restaurants and bars are ordered to close dine-in facilities, but may continue to operate take out, delivery or drive through services. Id.
      • Effective March 17, 2020 the State “strongly urges” nonessential businesses to close at least through March 31, 2020. Essential services and sectors may remain open, but are encouraged to employ social distancing practices. Id.
        • Nonessential businesses include: public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations. Id.
        • Essential services and sectors include: food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging. Id.