In the past 24 hours, California, Pennsylvania and New York have all mandated the closure of non-essential businesses in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, many glass industry companies are uncertain about their classification and some are seeking exemptions.
On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all citizens to stay at home. Californians are allowed to buy groceries, leave for healthcare purposes and to commute to essential jobs.
The 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the state of California include critical manufacturing, which encompasses aluminum production and processing.
The American General Contractors Association California sent out an update last night reporting that after submitting a letter to Governor Newsom emphasizing that “the construction industry’s role in building, maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure is paramount to the state’s ability to return to any sense of normalcy,” construction has now been listed as an essential need during the crisis.
“This clarification will allow our industry to continue working on critical infrastructure improvements essential during this time, including hospital construction and upgrades, building schools and ensuring our roads and bridges are safe for first responders,” reads the update.
While the construction industry has received some clarification, glass fabricators are still figuring out their next steps.
Bernard Lax, CEO of Pulp Studio in Gardena, Calif., says that the company is currently still operating, but it implemented office adjustments and work from home allowances last week for non-essential office staff.
“We will know later today if we can continue operating under an exemption clause,” says Lax. “We have emphasized with our workforce to only come to work and to their homes in order to control our population exposure. Today we are putting together our exemption plan and I am sure that will demonstrate a lot of flexibility for our employees to have the option to stay home if they choose to. Our plant allows for a lot of distancing between work stations so we hope that helps to prevent some of the overall concerns.”
All employees at SAFTI First’s headquarters in Brisbane, Calif., are working from home.
“… and our manufacturing facility is following the guidelines set by the California Governor last night. We wish that everyone in the country stay safe through this health crisis,” says vice president of marketing Diana San Diego.
In an article for JD Supra, Maureen Gorsen, partner at law firm Alston & Bird, wrote that businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate are also classified as essential.
“All nonessential businesses can remain open as long as employees are only performing “minimum basic operations” such as maintaining the value of business inventory, facilitating telework for employees to work from home or providing security,” adds Gorsen.
This morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential businesses to close. The order takes effect Sunday evening. Yesterday, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order mandating that businesses that require in-office personnel decrease their in-office workforce by 75%. It’s unclear whether the new order supersedes yesterday’s order.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered Thursday that all businesses not performing “life-sustaining” work close. Life-sustaining businesses may remain open but they must follow social distancing practices and other mitigation measures. Enforcement actions will be taken against non-life-sustaining businesses that are out of compliance effective March 21, 2020.
According to Penn Live, life sustaining businesses include:
- Steel product manufacturing from purchased steel;
- Alumina and aluminum production and processing; and
- Building material and supplies dealers.
However, the article lists the following as non-life-sustaining businesses:
- Glass and glass product manufacturing;
- Coating and adhesive manufacturing;
- Other fabricated metal product manufacturing;
- Residential and nonresidential building construction;
- Building equipment contractors;
- Building finishing contractors;
- Other specialty trade contractors; and
- Hardware manufacturing.