Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers


As the United States comes together to slow the spread of COVID-19, many state and local municipalities have closed non-essential businesses. As a result, member companies have asked the question: What are essential businesses?

Each state is unique; therefore, providing a definitive answer in every situation is nearly impossible. However, there is a national guideline published by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that provides insight into this answer.

Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response.

The following information is taken from the CISA Memorandum: Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.


This list was developed in consultation with federal agency partners, industry experts, and state and local officials, and is based on several key principles:

  1. Response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic are locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.
  2. Everyone should follow guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local government officials, regarding strategies to limit disease spread.
  3. Workers should be encouraged to work remotely when possible and focus on core business activities. In-person, non-mandatory activities should be delayed until the resumption of normal operations.
  4. When continuous remote work is not possible, businesses should enlist strategies to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, separating staff by off-setting shift hours or days and/or social distancing. These steps can preserve the workforce and allow operations to continue.
  5. All organizations should implement their business continuity and pandemic plans, or put plans in place if they do not exist. Delaying implementation is not advised and puts at risk the viability of the business and the health and safety of the employees.
  6. In the modern economy, reliance on technology and just-in-time supply chains means that certain workers must be able to access certain sites, facilities, and assets to ensure continuity of functions.
  7. Government employees, such as emergency managers, and the business community need to establish and maintain lines of communication.
  8. When government and businesses engage in discussions about critical infrastructure workers, they need to consider the implications of business operations beyond the jurisdiction where the asset or facility is located. Businesses can have sizeable economic and societal impacts as well as supply chain dependencies that are geographically distributed.
  9. Whenever possible, jurisdictions should align access and movement control policies related to critical infrastructure workers to lower the burden of workers crossing jurisdictional boundaries.

The memorandum also contains a list to help identify essential critical infrastructure workers. The list is quite extensive and does include air transportation employees, including air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel, ramp workers, aviation and aerospace safety, security, and operations personnel and accident investigations, as essential employees under the heading of Transportation and Logistics.


The AEA encourages each member to download and read the linked memorandum. If your state or municipality has defaulted to the federal guidelines (which most have), then this document is essential to you, your employees and your business.

As always, we are here to help you through these trying and unprecedented times. We are learning more every day and will continue to share what we learn with you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to bring them up. We are here to support you and your business.

Contact Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, by email at or by phone at 202-589-1144.