What is Essential vs Non-Essential Businesses when it comes to “Shelter-in-Place”

To further combat the spread of COVID-19, Longview Mayor Andy Mack and Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt have issued a mandatory “Shelter-in-Place” order. The orders direct all residents of Longview and Gregg County to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.” On those occasions when you are out of your home for necessary tasks, stay at least six feet away from others.

Check the infographic below for a quick reference of Essential vs Non-Essential businesses.  Click on the image for a printable document.  See an example list of Essential vs Non-Essential Businesses  or Read the Official Mandatory Shelter-in-Place Order

What are essential businesses? May they stay open?
The following are considered essential businesses according to the orders and are encouraged to stay open. All essential businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open; however, even essential businesses are encouraged to determine essential staff necessary to operate and to send non-essential staff home. To the greatest extent feasible, essential businesses should still comply with Social Distancing Requirements.

  • Essential Government services such as emergency management and emergency responders, public works, garbage/sanitation, water and sewer utilities, development services, and animal control and animal sheltering.
  • Health care operations, including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies, other healthcare facilities, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services.  “Healthcare Operations” also include veterinary care and all healthcare services provided to animals.  This exemption shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to the delivery of healthcare, broadly defined.  “Healthcare Operations” does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
  • Essential Infrastructure, which is defined as the 16 critical infrastructure sectors as identified by the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), including, but not limited to, construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, and web-based services), financial institutions, defense and national security-related operations, and essential manufacturing operations, provided that they carry out those services or that work in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements
  • Grocery stores, certified farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products), and liquor stores.  This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Food cultivation, including farming, livestock, and fishing
  • Gas service stations, auto supply, auto repair, bicycle repair shops and related facilities.
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  • Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services
  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Hardware and construction supply stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Laundromats, dry cleaners, and laundry service providers
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out.  Schools and other entities that typically provide food services to students or members of the public may continue to do so under this Order on the condition that the food is provided to students or members of the public on a pick-up or take-away basis only.  Schools and other entities that provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site where it is provided, or at any other gathering site
  • Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home
  • Businesses that supply other Essential Businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences;
  • Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order;
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children;
  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults, and children;
  • Professional services:  legal, accounting, insurance, real estate services (including appraisal, survey, and title services);
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the guidelines to work as permitted;
  • Utilities, telecommunications, trash collection and disposal, law enforcement, EMS/ambulance, corrections, dispatch, animal shelters, governmental employees who have not been specifically deemed non-essential and sent home by the government entity;
  • Janitorial and maintenance services, funeral industry, defense industry, space and technology industry, technology support, and scientific research; and
  • Religious services provided in residences, Healthcare Operations, at funerals, or provided online while being broadcast from a religious facility.

What are essential activities for which people may leave their residence? 
The mandatory Shelter-in-Place orders direct residents to only leave their home to perform essential activities such as those listed below.  However, people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care.

  • Activities essential to health and safety of family, household members, and pets, including for example obtaining medical supplies, visiting a healthcare professional, or obtaining supplies needed to work from home.
  • Obtaining necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members or to deliver those services or supplies to others.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, for example exercise or walking pets. However, social distancing requirements still apply.
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.
  • Performing work at an essential business or to maintain minimum basic operations of a non-essential business.


  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first).
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others in the community
  • Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies
  • Go to work for an essential business.


  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by the guidelines. (Note: work arrangements should be made in consultation with your employer. Alternative work arrangements are recommended where possible.)
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility

For these orders, what is meant by the term “business”? What about a non-profit or educational entity?
For the purpose of the Shelter-in-Place orders, the term business includes any for-profit, non-profit, or educational entities, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure.

Do non-essential businesses have to shut down completely or can they maintain minimum basic operations?
Businesses may maintain “minimum basic operations” including the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and benefits, or for related functions. Additionally, minimum basic operations include the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely.

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