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COVID-19 Update for Food Companies Navigating Quarantine Disruption

March 24, 2020, Covington Alert

Over the past several weeks, states and localities across the country have implemented wide-ranging quarantines and curfews meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some of these measures have impeded food companies’ efforts to manufacture and distribute critical goods to their intended destinations. Even as the federal government underscores the importance of food sector businesses continuing normal operations, manufacturers and distributors may continue to face challenges at the state and local level.

This alert explains the basic structure of the U.S. public health emergency system, including that state and local authorities bear much of the responsibility for responding to health emergencies within their own borders, with the federal government playing a supporting role. It then examines the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) designation of the food and agriculture industry as “Critical Infrastructure Sectors” and the relationship between that designation and state and local law. Finally, this alert explains how companies and their employees can rely on their critical infrastructure entity designations to address any challenges local quarantines pose.

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