States Order Nonessential Businesses to Close

Written by Sandy Williams

Editor’s note: Various states, counties and cities have issued some form of “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders including California, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Ohio, Connecticut and Illinois, as well as cities such as St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans and some counties in Colorado, Georgia and Idaho, among others. The list grows by the day. This article focuses on two states and is not intended to be comprehensive.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. Friday, March 19, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Life sustaining business include grocery stores, gas stations, farms, and transit systems.

Due to the high volume of waiver requests, enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations following the deadline have been delayed until 8:00 a.m., March 23. The order remains effective until further notice.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” said Gov. Wolf. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”

Under the governor’s order, primary steel and aluminum mills may remain open. All fabricated metal product manufacturing, however, is closed down.

A partial list affecting the metals industry is below and the entire list may be accessed here.


Primary Metal Manufacturing

  • Iron and Steel Mills and Ferroalloy Manufacturing
  • Steel Product Manufacturing from Purchased Steel
  • Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing

Machine Manufacturing

  • Agriculture, Construction, and Mining Machinery Manufacturing
  • Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing
  • Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturing
  • Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing


  • All except charter bus and sightseeing


Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

  • Forging and Stamping
  • Cutlery and Hand tool Manufacturing
  • Boiler, Tank, and Shipping Container Manufacturing
  • Hardware Manufacturing
  • Spring and Wire Product Manufacturing
  • Machine Shops, Turned Product, and Screw, Nut, and Bolt manufacturing
  • Coating, Engraving, Heat Turning, and Allied Activities
  • Other Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

Machine Manufacturing

  • Industrial Machinery Manufacturing
  • Ventilation, Heating, Air-Conditioning, and Commercial
  • Metalworking Machinery Manufacturing
  • Other General Purpose Machinery Manufacturing
  • Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
  • Motor Vehicle Manufacturing
  • Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing
  • Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
  • Railroad Rolling Stock Manufacturing
  • Ship and Boat Building
  • Other Transportation Equipment Manufacturing


  • Residential Building Construction
  • Nonresidential Building Construction
  • Utility Subsystem Construction
  • Land Subdivision
  • Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction
  • Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction
  • Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors
  • Building Equipment Contractors
  • Building Finishing Contractors
  • Other Specialty Trade Contractors

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a similar executive order on Thursday asking all Californians to remain at home except those designated as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” The essential designation includes, among others, primary metals manufacturing and manufacturers in the energy sector and transportation equipment.

“This order is being issued to protect the public health of Californians,” said Newsom. “The California Department of Public Health looks to establish consistency across the state in order to ensure that we mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Our goal is simple, we want to bend the curve and disrupt the spread of the virus.”

The order will be enforced by the state, but Newsom believes social pressure will be the driving force behind compliance.

As of Sunday, March 22, non-essential businesses have also been closed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio and Lousiana and residents have been asked to stay at home or shelter at home. Due to the large populations in these states, it is now estimated that nearly one quarter of the U.S. has been asked to remain home during this crisis.

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