Overview of State Actions on Business Closure and Personal Movement Restrictions in Response to COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, governors are taking action to limit the spread of this disease. Business closures, designations of “essential” businesses, and restrictions on movement (e.g., stay at home/shelter in place orders, curfews, etc.) are measures that can be taken at the state or local level to protect individuals from public health threats while ensuring continuity of essential functions and critical workforces.

Governors possess significant powers and authority relating to the implementation of business closures, designations of businesses, and personal movement restrictions during emergency periods. The purpose of this memo is to share information about how governors are addressing freedom of movement in their states in response to COVID-19. Given these exigent circumstances and shifting dynamics, NGA recommends that governors, their advisors, and other state officials work closely with legal counsel and private sector partners when:

  1. 1) Considering and implementing business closure orders and personal movement restrictions;
  2. 2) Classifying “essential” businesses and/or personnel;
  3. 3) Coordinating with federal partners on guidance;
  4. 4) Collaborating with local partners on state-supported and locally implemented closures, where appropriate; and
  5. 5) Coordinating and collaborating with stakeholders upon the lifting of closures and designations

Updated April 13, 2020:

Appendix 1 – Reference Chart on State Essential Business Designations

All NGA COVID-19 memos can be found here, or visit COVID-19: What You Need To Know for current information on actions States/Territories are taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as advocacy, policy, and guidance documents for protecting public health and the economy.