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Is Roofing Essential?

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One of the biggest questions facing roofing contractors during this unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak is whether or not roofing is considered an “Essential Business” and is allowed to operate even while other business operations are being restricted. Thousands of businesses and jobs hang in the balance of this question as contractors across the country wrestle with this definition.

The answer is less concrete than the question. Depending on where your business operates and what your business primarily consists of, the answer could be yes, no, maybe, or it depends.

What does the government say?

On March 19, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (located within the Department of Homeland Security) issued guidance for states and localities to use when making decisions about which businesses to close or restrict during this time. The guidance was updated on April 17 to try and better define “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.”

In a letter March 19, the National Association of Roofing Contractors formally requested President Trump clarify that language to recognize the role the roofing industry serves in protecting U.S. families and businesses. As of the writing of this blog post, specific guidance for roofing contractors had not been provided.

So, can roofers operate?

The federal guidelines make it clear the decision of which businesses can continue operating rests in the hands of individual states and localities.

Contractors are discussing this question in depth in online groups and forums, looking at the issue from a variety of angles. One of the biggest questions being posed is whether or not contractors can roof new residential or multifamily construction projects during this time.

A similar question being posed is whether or not contractors can undertake roof replacements where the damage is cosmetic or not requiring immediate intervention. Again, the roofers’ responses in these online groups seems very dependent on the specific area where the roofer lives and works as some states and localities have taken very different approaches to these questions.

Suggestions based on these guidelines

The NRCA has recommended roofing companies use the CISA guidance at a state and local level and to continue to seek further express definitions of roofing’s inclusion as “Essential Businesses.”

The NRCA believes it is likely that at least some roofing contractors will be required to suspend work during this crisis and created a guidance document to assist contractors with preparing for a roofing work site shutdown.

Online, roofers are offering advice to one another, and among the most popular suggestions is to re-prioritize projects if possible to focus on structures clearly within the defined “Essential Business” listings.

The most important thing to realize, as all of the major industry groups have pointed out, is that this COVID-19 situation is unprecedented and fluid, changing rapidly, and constantly evolving. Federal, state and local officials are making decisions on a daily basis about what are necessary steps for the health and safety of communities and the economy. The best advice on being prepared is to stay connected with the latest breaking news on the topic.

Disclaimer: The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites and TAMKO is not responsible for the availability, content or accuracy of those other websites. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

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