UPDATED: News Publishers Deemed “Essential” Businesses During Pandemic

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CALIFORNIA:

March 21 – The state of California has ordered all residents to stay home during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. All non-essential workers are to shelter in place until further notice. Among the essential businesses allowed to operate as normal under the order are news publishers and broadcasters. You can read California’s full order and an FAQ about the situation in the state here.

March 16 – The City and County of San Francisco, California, has cited news publishers (“Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services”) as essential businesses under its newly enacted shelter-in-place order. The action, taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, is the first to declare news publishers as “essential” alongside such necessary businesses as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. You can read the full Order here.

COLORADO:

March 23 – Colorado issued an amendment to their social distancing measures in which they clearly label news publishers and broadcasters as “essential” during the ongoing public health crisis. You can read the amended order here.

March 17 – In Colorado, the Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition sent a joint letter to Governor Jared Polis requesting that employees of news publishers be considered “essential” staff during the state of emergency and be given freedom of movement to continue to report and deliver the news. You can read their letter online here.

CONNECTICUT:

March 23 – Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued an executive order issuing restrictions for all non-essential businesses in the state. The order extends through April 22 and encourages all non-essential businesses to keep operations to a minimum and to allow employees to work remotely if at all possible. Among those businesses exempt from the order are “news media” operations, which are permitted to operate as normal during the continued public health crisis. You can read the full order here.

DELAWARE:

March 22 – Delaware Governor John Carney has issued a “stay at home” order for the state of Delaware, going into effect on March 24. Under the order, all non-essential businesses are ordered to cease operations and all residents are urged to stay home unless necessary. You can read the full Delaware order here. Under the order, news publishers and broadcasters are allowed to continue operations as “essential” businesses. You can read the full list of essential businesses here.

FLORIDA:

March 19 – The Florida Press Association today sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis asking that the governor recognize news publishers as “essential” businesses in the event of a business shutdown or shelter-in-place order. The letter noted the classification of media businesses as “essential” in places such as San Francisco, Colorado and Pennsylvania, and asked that Florida news media be treated the same. You can read the full letter here. 

March 19 – Florida’s Miami-Dade County has issued “Emergency Order 07-20” enacting a local state of emergency in the county. The order requires that all non-essential retail and commercial businesses close. Essential business — including newspapers, television, radio, and other media services — are permitted to remain open and operational. You can read the full order here.

HAWAII: 

March 23 – Hawaii Governor David Ige signed an executive order urging all residents of the state to stay at home unless participating in essential activities or businesses. Among those businesses deemed “essential” under the governor’s order are newspapers and broadcasters. You can read the full order here.

ILLINOIS:

March 20 – Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has issued an executive order requiring all residents to stay at home unless otherwise necessary. Under the order, all non-essential businesses must cease all but the minimum basic operations. Per Governor Pritzker, news publishers and producers are considered “essential” and may continue to operate as normal. You can read the full order here. Because essential employees may need to provide proof of their business while moving around the state, the Illinois Press Association has drafted a sample letter for journalists and other news media employees to carry on them during the shutdown. You can download the letter here.

March 19 – The Village of Oak Park, Illinois, has issued an official shelter-in-place order for all residents effective March 20. “Essential” businesses are exempt from the order, and the city has deemed “newspapers, television, radio, and other media services” among the most essential businesses for residents. You can read the official shelter-in-place order here.

INDIANA: 

March 23 – Governor Eric Holcomb has issued a stay-at-home order for the state of Indiana. Only essential businesses — including news media publishers and broadcasters — are permitted to operate as normal. You can read the full order here. And the full list of “essential” businesses can be found here.

IOWA:

March 23 – The Iowa Newspaper Association sent a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds requesting clarification on the “essential” nature of news publishers during the ongoing public health crisis. The letter stated, “We would appreciate this clarification that media and organizations including newspapers are essential businesses to remain open during the COVID-19 crisis in order to continue to inform the public about their health, safety and welfare. Freedom of movement for credentialed reporters and those delivering newspapers is essential to our ability to keep the public appraised of rapidly evolving developments during this pandemic.” You can read the full letter here.

LOUISIANA:

March 22 – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that he is issuing a “stay at home” order for all residents and visitors to Louisiana. Per the order, news media operations are exempt and will be permitted to continue their essential operations. You can read the full order here. Louisiana, like many other states, is following the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) memorandum on “essential” business operations during the ongoing pandemic. You can read the full CISA memo here.

MARYLAND:

March 30 – Governor Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order for the state of Maryland, requiring all residents to stay home unless participating in essential business or obtaining medical care or essential goods such as groceries and gas. The order states that anyone who knowingly violates the order is guilty of a misdemeanor and could be required to pay a $5,000 fine. The Maryland order follows CISA guidance, exempting news media publishers, producers, and delivery staff from the stay-at-home mandate. You can read the full order here.

March 23 – Governor Larry Hogan announced that he is ordering all non-essential businesses in the state to close, including those that had been permitted to continue operating under previous orders. Only “essential” businesses are now allowed to operate in Maryland. Hogan followed the CISA guidance on determining which businesses count as essential. You can read the CISA memo here. And you can read all of the Maryland orders here.

Maryland issued an addendum to their order with other businesses that may remain open during the duration of the state’s stay-at-home order. You can read that list here.

MASSACHUSETTS:

March 23 – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker ordered the full closure of all non-essential businesses in the state through April 7. Among the list of exempt, “essential” businesses are news publishers and broadcasters. You can read the Massachusetts order here.

MICHIGAN:

March 24 – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” via executive order. Under the order, “communications and information technology, including news media” are exempt from any stay-in-place measures as essential businesses. You can read the full order here.

MINNESOTA:

March 26 – Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order ordering all residents of the state to stay at home unless engaged in essential activities or businesses. While Minnesota is following CISA guidance, the order also spells out an explicit exemption for news: “Communications and information technology. This category is limited to communications and information technology workers listed in the CISA Guidance, in addition to all workers who support news services of all kinds, including newspapers, radio, television, and other forms of news media.” You can read the full order here.

March 20 – The Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz requesting his assurance that news publishers would be considered “essential” businesses during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The MNA noted that, “Recent experience has demonstrated that a great deal of false and misleading information about the coronavirus is being widely disseminated via the internet, and through social media. Professional news organizations can provide the most effective antidote to this kind of bad information, and the harmful effects it may have.” You can read their full letter here.

NEVADA:

March 20 – The Nevada Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management sent a letter to Governor Steve Sisolak with an emergency regulation outlining which businesses should be considered “essential” during the ongoing public health crisis. Among those businesses considered essential and which should be allowed to operate as normal are newspapers, television, radio and other media services. You can read the full letter and regulation here.

NEW JERSEY: 

March 22 – The governor of New Jersey issued an executive order enacting a state of emergency. Per the order, nothing done by the government to restrict movement and prevent the spread of coronavirus “shall be construed to limit, prohibit, or restrict in any way the operations of newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.” You can read the full order here.

NEW MEXICO: 

March 23 – New Mexico’s Department of Health issued a “Public Health Emergency Order Closing All Businesses and Non-Profit Entities Except for those Deemed Essential and Providing Additional Restrictions on Mass Gatherings Due to COVID-19.” According to the order, “media services including television, radio, and newspaper operations” are essential and exempt from the order. You can read the full order here.

NEW YORK:

March 20 – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued tighter restrictions during New York’s state of emergency. All non-essential businesses are required to keep 100 percent of employees home. Essential businesses are still exempt from this order, including news publishers. You can read Cuomo’s order on essential businesses here. The tighter order comes as confirmed cases of COVID-19 near 8,000 in New York State.

March 19 – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that media organizations and news publishers would be considered essential businesses and exempt from an order for 50 percent work reduction in the state. View the order here.

NORTH CAROLINA:

March 25 – The county of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, is under a state of emergency, as is the city of Charlotte. Per the order, all businesses and government agencies are to cease all non-essential operations “requiring public mobility within the county.” Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services are exempt as “essential” businesses. You can read the full order here.

March 20 – The North Carolina Press Association and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters sent a joint letter to Governor Roy Cooper about the value of news media during the continuing public health crisis. The associations requested that news producers be considered “essential” businesses in the event of any state-of-emergency or shelter-in-place orders. You can read their full letter here. 

OHIO:

March 22 – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has issued a “stay at home” order for the state of Ohio. Under the order, all non-essential business operations must cease, and residents are urged to stay home unless necessary. Per the governor’s order, news media publishers and broadcasters are exempt from the order and may continue to operate as normal. You can read the full order here.

OKLAHOMA: 

March 24 – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has issued a stay-at-home order for the state. The order has not yet been uploaded to the state’s website, nor has there been guidance about news media operations. You can read about the governor’s announcement here.

OREGON: 

March 23 – Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a “stay-at-home” order for the state. There has not yet been guidance on what businesses are “essential” under the order. You can read the executive order here.

PENNSYLVANIA:

March 23 – Governor Tom Wolf has issued “stay-at-home” orders for seven counties in Pennsylvania. You can read the executive order for these counties here.

March 20 – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has released a list of “life-sustaining” businesses that can continue full operations during the ongoing public health crisis. Among those businesses deemed “life-sustaining” are news publishers and news broadcasters. You can read the full list here.

March 17 – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has assured the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) that news publishers are not among the “non-essential” businesses being asked to temporarily close to slow the spread of COVID-19. Pennsylvania publishers can learn more from the PNA here. The PNA also sent a letter to Governor Wolf asking that news publishers’ essential status be upheld during the public health crisis. You can read their letter here.

RHODE ISLAND:

March 28 – Governor Gina Raimondo issued an executive order requiring all Rhode Island residents to stay at home unless traveling to work, to get medical treatment, or to obtain essentials such as gas and groceries. Employers are to make accommodations for employees to work from home. Though not spelled out in the order, news media workers are exempt from the order per a conversation with the governor’s lawyer. You can read the full order here. Should the media exemption be added to a future version, it will be added here.

TEXAS: 

March 23 – Several counties in Texas have issued “stay-at-home” orders. You can read about the counties that have issues these orders here.

VERMONT:

March 27 – The Vermont Community Newspaper Group shared a sample letter with the Vermont Press Association that newsroom staff can use when traveling through counties that are under shelter-in-place orders for news gathering, production, and delivery purposes. The letter allows the staff to identify themselves as news media employees if stopped by officials. You can read the sample letter here.

VIRGINIA:

March 30 – Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive stay-at-home order requiring all residents to stay at home unless participating in essential businesses or activities such as obtaining essential goods, traveling to work, or seeking medical care. Per a previous order on “essential” businesses, news media producers, publishers, and delivery staff are exempt. You can read the full stay-at-home order here.

March 23 – Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order restricting businesses in the state of Virginia. According to the order, news media are exempt from all regulations as “essential” businesses. You can read the full order here.

WASHINGTON: 

March 23 – Governor Jay Inslee issued a “stay-at-home” order for the state of Washington. Under the order, “workers who support radio, television, newspapers and media service, including, but not
limited to front line news reporters, studio, and technicians for newsgathering and reporting,
and workers involved in the printing and distribution of newspapers” are essential and are exempt from the order. You can read the full order here. And you can read the full list of essential workers here.

WEST VIRGINIA: 

March 23 – Governor Jim Justice issued a stay-at-home order for the state of West Virginia. Under the order, all non-essential businesses are to cease operation and all non-essential travel within the state is to be restricted. Per Justice’s order, however, news media — including newspapers, radio and television — are exempt as “essential” businesses and are permitted to continue regular operation. You can read the full order here. 

WISCONSIN:

March 24 – Governor Tony Evers issued an executive “stay-at-home” order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. Under the order, “newspapers, television, radio, and other media services” are exempt as essential services. You can read the full order here.

Federal:

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: March 19 – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday sent a letter to President Trump requesting that news publishers and news delivery services — along with other vital businesses like pharmacies, grocery stores, mail delivery, etc. — be considered “essential” during this ongoing public health crisis. The Chamber asked that the Trump Administration provide guidance to state and local governments issuing shelter-in-place or other virus reduction orders to include these businesses as “essential” and allow them to continue operation, provided they take safety precautions. You can read the Chamber’s full letter here.

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: 

March 28 – The DHS Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an updated memorandum about what businesses and infrastructure should be considered “essential” during the ongoing public health crisis. The updated memo includes more specific guidance on news media: “Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including, but not limited to front-line news reporters,studio, and technicians for newsgathering, and reporting, and publishing news.” You can read the full revised memo here.

March 19 – The DHS Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a memorandum to offer guidance to states and other municipalities on what businesses and infrastructure should be considered “essential” during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the CISA memo here.

International: 

ITALY: March 18 – In Italy, which is currently under lockdown in an effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, a debate is waging about the importance of print newspapers. However, when deciding which businesses would be spared during a country-wide shutdown, news publishers and newsstands were deemed essential businesses by the Italian government, and newsstands have even seen a small uptick in business since the lockdown went into effect. You can read more about the situation here.

 

The Alliance will be monitoring the situation across the country and keeping members informed of how their businesses are classified. You can read our statement on this matter here.

Sample Letters

Colorado: Letter to Governor Jared Polis from the Colorado Press Association & Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition
Florida: Letter to Governor Ron DeSantis from the Florida Press Association
Illinois: Sample Essential Employee Letter from Illinois Press Association
Iowa Newspaper Association Letter to Governor Kim Reynolds
Minnesota: Letter to Governor Tim Walz from Minnesota Newspaper Association
North Carolina: Letter to Governor Roy Cooper from North Carolina Press Association and North Carolina Association of Broadcasters
Pennsylvania: Letter to Governor Tom Wolf from Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association
Vermont Community Newspaper Group Sample Letter
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Letter to President Trump

State/Municipality Orders

Department of Homeland Security CISA Memorandum
DHS CISA Memo Update (March 28)
California Stay-at-Home Order and FAQ
California: San Francisco Shelter in Place Order
Colorado Social Distancing Amendment
Connecticut Executive Order
Delaware Stay-at-Home Order
Delaware: Essential Businesses
Florida: Miami-Dade County (Florida) Local State of Emergency Order
Hawaii Stay-at-Home Order
Illinois Stay at Home Executive Order
Illinois: Oak Park, Illinois, Shelter-in-Place Order
Indiana Executive Order
Indiana Essential Businesses
Louisiana “Stay at Home” Order
Maryland Coronavirus Orders
Maryland Addendum of Exempt Businesses
Maryland Stay-at-Home Order (March 30)
Massachusetts Executive Order and Essential Businesses
Michigan Executive Order
Minnesota Executive Order
Nevada Department of Public Safety Emergency Regulation
New Jersey Executive Order
New Mexico Dept. of Health Order
New York: State of New York Executive Chamber Executive Order
North Carolina: Mecklenberg County Order
Ohio “Stay at Home” Order
Oregon Executive Order
Pennsylvania COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts
Pennsylvania List of “Life-Sustaining” Businesses
Pennsylvania Executive Order (March 23)
Rhode Island Executive Order
Virginia Executive Order
Virginia Stay-at-Home Order (March 30)
Washington Executive Order
Washington Essential Workers
West Virginia Stay-at-Home Order
Wisconsin Executive Order

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