With Missouri Governor Mike Parson's Stay-Home Order in effect, some businesses are wondering whether they may stay open or are forced to close. Is your business "essential" or not, and either way, what does that mean under Missouri's order? LakeExpo found answers to these questions on the state and county level, and we've unpacked them below, hopefully to help clear the air (and with ample links to more resources and details).
Do Businesses Have To Close?
The short answer: no, not under the statewide mandate. The FAQs for Governor Parson's order say this explicitly:
Businesses that are not covered by the guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) discussed in the Order may remain open but must comply with the social gathering and social distance requirements of the Order. This means that no more than 10 individuals can occupy a single space, this includes both employees and customers. Individuals must also maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others. Employees must also practice good hygiene and sanitation to limit the spread of COVID-19. Businesses are also encouraged to allow individuals, where feasible, to work from home to achieve optimum isolation.
In other words, no businesses are required to close, under the state order.
However, some cities and counties may have more stringent orders in place that require business closures, and businesses in those areas are subject to those laws. For example, in Camden County, restaurants have been required to close their dining rooms and may only provide carry-out/delivery/curbside service, and personal care businesses such as salons, spas, aestheticians, etc must be closed.
What's The Difference Between "Essential" & "Non-Essential" Businesses?
Since no businesses are required to close under Missouri's Stay-Home Order, the distinction between "Essential" and "Non-Essential" businesses helps business owners and managers know whether they are bound by the stricter parts of the order limiting social gatherings (prohibiting more than 10 people in one space and requiring people to stay 6 feet apart).
For the purposes of Missouri's Stay-Home order, essential businesses are defined according to the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. A full description can be found here. The Governor's office itemized these business types as a basic summary:
- Healthcare workers and caregivers
- Law enforcement, fire fighters, and first responders
- Government operations
- Mental health and Social Service workers
- Pharmacy employees
- Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail sales of food and beverage products
- Restaurant carryout and quick-serve food operations and food delivery employees
- Electricity and Utility Industry Employees
- Critical Manufacturing Employees (medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals)
- Petroleum, Natural and Propane Gas Workers
- Transportation and Logistics Workers
- Communications and Information Technology Employees
Businesses otherwise identified in the Department of Health and Senior Services Stay at Home Order may also be exempt from the social gathering requirements.
Camden County Commissioner Don Williams said he wants local businesses to make sure they understand this distinction. "This is very important to note because many local businesses can continue to operate, even under the new stay at home rules, and without the need to request a waiver from the state, if they meet the above criteria, which a large number of businesses will," he said.
A template letter is available for essential businesses who want something for themselves and their employees as evidence they are exempt from the social gathering requirements. That letter can be found here: https://files.constantcontact.com/9a4eaa93201/c4bebe18-760d-403e-9b7f-ea305c11a55a.pdf
The Missouri Department of Economic Development provides business guidance for the stay at home order, here: https://ded.mo.gov/content/stay-home-order-business-guidance
Businesses not meeting the criteria of an "Essential Business" may request a waiver from the state's social gatherings requirement by providing additional justification explaining why they are essential to public health and safety. If you feel your business is essential to public health and safety, apply for a Business Waiver Request here: https://ded.mo.gov/essential-business-waiver-requests