Guidelines for What Constitutes a Life-Sustaining Business:

If you would like to make an appeal or are confused about whether your business is life-sustaining, you can ask the following questions:

  • Does my business cater to essential needs, such as the production or distribution of food and beverages?
  • Does my business manufacture or distribute medical supplies?
  • Does my business provide aid to those with a medical emergency?
  • Does my business distribute essential services like sewage maintenance, water, power, or gas?
  • Will any lives be at risk or adversely affected by my business's closure?
  • Will life-sustaining businesses be negatively impacted by my business's closure?

If the answer to any of the above is "yes," you can make an appeal for your business to remain open. Navigate to your state's website and look for an appeal application form.

Supporting Critical Infrastructure:

If your business is necessary for maintaining the supply chain to critical infrastructure, you may appeal to be listed as life-sustaining. Critical infrastructure includes:

  • Medical supplies.
  • Transportation of essential cargo (fuel, medical supplies, food, etc.).
  • Energy production and distribution.
  • Communications (news providers, internet services, cell service providers, etc.).
  • Food and agriculture.
  • Emergency services.
  • Maintenance and management of water treatment, dams, and sewage treatment facilities.
  • Maintenance and management of nuclear plants.
  • The armed forces.
  • Law enforcement.
  • First responders.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting:

  • Oilseed and grain farming.
  • Vegetable and melon farming.
  • Fruit and tree nut farming.
  • Greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production.
  • Cattle ranching and farming.
  • Hog and pig farming.
  • Poultry and egg production.
  • Sheep and goat farming.
  • Animal aquaculture.
  • Other animal production.
  • Fishing.
  • Hunting and trapping.
  • Support activities for crop production.
  • Support activities for animal production.
  • Oil and gas extraction.

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction:

  • Oil and gas extraction.
  • Mining.
  • Support activities for mining.


  • Animal food manufacturing.
  • Grain and oilseed milling.
  • Sugar and confectionery product manufacturing.
  • Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing.
  • Dairy product manufacturing.
  • Animal slaughtering and processing.
  • Seafood product preparation and packaging.
  • Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing.
  • Other food manufacturing.
  • Beverage manufacturing.
  • Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills.
  • Converted paper product manufacturing.
  • Petroleum and coal products manufacturing.
  • Basic chemical manufacturing.
  • Resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing.
  • Pesticide, fertilizer, and other agricultural chemical manufacturing.
  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.
  • Soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation manufacturing.
  • Other chemical products and preparation manufacturing.
  • Plastics product manufacturing.
  • Rubber product manufacturing.
  • Cement and concrete product manufacturing.
  • Iron and steel mills and ferroalloy manufacturing.
  • Steel product manufacturing from purchased steel.
  • Alumina and aluminum production and processing.
  • Agriculture, construction, and mining machinery manufacturing.
  • Commercial and service industry machinery manufacturing.
  • Ventilation, heating, air-conditioning, and commercial refrigeration manufacturing.
  • Engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment manufacturing.
  • Semiconductor and other electrical component manufacturing.
  • Navigational measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing.
  • Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing.

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities:

  • Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and supplies merchant wholesalers.
  • Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.
  • Metal and mineral (except petroleum) merchant wholesalers.
  • Electrical and electric goods merchant wholesalers.
  • Hardware, plumbing, and heating equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.
  • Machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers.
  • Miscellaneous durable goods merchant wholesalers.
  • Drugs and druggists’ sundries merchant wholesalers.
  • Grocery and related product wholesalers.
  • Farm product raw material merchant wholesalers.
  • Chemical and allied products merchant wholesalers.
  • Petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers.
  • Beer, wine, and distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers.
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores.
  • Building material and supplies dealers.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores (beer distributors to remain open).
  • Other general merchandise stores.
  • Electronic shopping and mail-order houses.
  • Scheduled air transportation.
  • Nonscheduled air transportation.
  • Rail transportation.
  • Deep sea, coastal, and Great Lakes water transportation.
  • Inland water transportation.
  • General freight trucking.
  • Specialized freight trucking.
  • Urban transit systems.
  • Interurban and rural bus transportation.
  • Taxi and limousine service.
  • School and employee bus transportation.
  • Other transit and ground passenger transportation.
  • Pipeline transportation of crude oil.
  • Pipeline transportation of natural gas.
  • Other pipeline transportation.
  • Support activities for air transportation.
  • Support activities for rail transportation.
  • Support activities for water transportation.
  • Support activities for road transportation.
  • Freight transportation arrangement.
  • Other support activities for transportation.
  • Postal service.
  • Couriers.
  • Local messengers and local delivery.
  • Warehousing and storage.
  • Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution.
  • Natural gas distribution.
  • Water, sewage, and other systems.


  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers.
  • Radio and television broadcasting.
  • Cable and other subscription programming.
  • Wired telecommunications carriers.
  • Wireless telecommunications carriers (except wireless satellite telecommunications).
  • Satellite telecommunications.
  • Cable and other program distribution.
  • Other telecommunications.
  • Data processing, hosting, and related services.
  • Other information services.

Financial Activities:

  • Monetary authorities - Central Bank.
  • Depository credit intermediation.
  • Nondepository credit intermediation.
  • Activities related to credit intermediation.
  • Automotive equipment rental and leasing.
  • Consumer goods rental.
  • General rental centers.
  • Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing.

Professional and Business Services:

  • Scientific Research and Development Services.
  • Other professional scientific and technical services.
  • Facilities support services.
  • Investigation and security services.
  • Services to buildings and dwellings.
  • Waste collection.
  • Waste treatment and disposal.
  • Remediation and other waste management services.

Health Care and Social Assistance:

  • Offices of physicians.
  • Offices of dentists.
  • Offices of other health practitioners.
  • Outpatient care centers.
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories.
  • Home health care services.
  • Other ambulatory health care services.
  • General medical and surgical hospitals.
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals.
  • Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals.
  • Nursing care facilities.
  • Residential mental retardation, mental health, and substance abuse facilities.
  • Community care facilities for the elderly.
  • Other residential care facilities.
  • Individual and family services.
  • Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services.
  • Vocational rehabilitation services.

Accommodation and Food Services:

  • Automotive repair and maintenance.
  • Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance.
  • Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment (except automotive and electronic) repair and maintenance.
  • Personal and household goods repair and maintenance.
  • Death care services.
  • Religious organizations.
  • Grantmaking and giving services.
  • Social advocacy organizations.
  • Civic and social organizations.

Critical infrastructure outlined by CISA:

The governor has stated that sectors defined by CISA should be considered life-sustaining.

1. Healthcare and public health:

  • Healthcare providers (including dentists, physical therapists, and psychologists).
  • Clinical research.
  • Hospitals.
  • Medical and biomedical facilities (blood banks, clinics, hospices, nursing care facilities, and other facilities that manage this category of service).
  • Medical supply manufacturing.
  • Public health communication.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Deathcare facilities (including mortuaries, funeral homes, and crematoriums).

2. Law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders:

  • Emergency management.
  • Law enforcement.
  • 911 Call centers.
  • Firearm and ammunition manufacturing and distribution.
  • Uniform manufacturing and distribution.
  • Equipment manufacturing and distribution.
  • Public agency work (responding to abuse and neglect of children, elders, and dependent adults).
  • Weather disaster response.
  • Security.

3. Food and agriculture:

  • Grocery stores.
  • Restaurants (take-out or delivery orders only).
  • Pet food stores.
  • Convenience stores.
  • Food manufacturing and distribution (including manufacturers of human food, animal food, food packaging, and beverages).
  • Farms (including farms that provide human or animal food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and food for domestic use and export).
  • Sanitation and pest control providers.
  • Butcheries.
  • Fiber and forest farms.
  • Farming equipment repair and maintenance providers.

4. Energy:

  • Nuclear, fossil, hydroelectric, or renewable energy support (engineering, administration, and cybersecurity).
  • Infrastructure support (IT and OT technology, engineering, data management, and cybersecurity).
  • Construction, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, maintenance, management, and monitoring of wind, solar, biomass, hydrogen, ocean, geothermal, and/or hydroelectric energy.
  • Security for nuclear refueling operations.
  • Waste management.
  • Environmental remediation/monitoring (immediate critical needs technicians only).

Essential Energy Sectors:


All manufacturers, engineers, distributors, transporters, managers, and support systems for the electricity industry.


All businesses involved in drilling, maintenance and repairs, transportation, processing, waste management, engineering, distribution, and maritime navigation for crude oil, petroleum, and petroleum products.

Natural Gas, Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), Propane, and other liquid fuels

All businesses involved in drilling, maintenance and repairs, transportation, processing, waste management, engineering, distribution, and maritime navigation for natural gas, propane, natural gas liquids, and other liquid fuel.

5. Water and wastewater:

  • Wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Wastewater collection facilities.
  • Water distribution and testing facilities.
  • Chemical and equipment suppliers.

6. Transportation and logistics:

  • Public transportation services like buses, trains, taxis, and ferries.
  • Auto repair shops.
  • Businesses that repair or maintain transportation services.
  • Providers of transportation for essential goods like food, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, fuel, water, chemicals, etc.
  • Warehouses that store essential goods like food, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, fuel, water, chemicals, etc.
  • Businesses that support warehouses with sanitation services, refrigeration services, administration, etc.
  • Vehicle rental services.
  • Providers of maritime transportation.
  • Businesses that support maritime transportation with sanitation services, maintenance, operations, etc.
  • Manufacturers of transportation equipment and parts.
  • Transportation safety inspectors.
  • Manufacturers of packaging materials.
  • Air transportation services.
  • Businesses that support air transportation like air traffic control, sanitation, food preparation, and security.

7. Public works and infrastructure support services:

  • Businesses that sanitize, repair, maintain, or inspect infrastructure like dams, bridges, water and wastewater mains, etc.
  • Tradespeople like HVAC technicians, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and contractors.
  • Businesses that provide services like sanitation, repair, maintenance, food preparation, and essential operation to residences, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, senior living facilities, etc.
  • Businesses that remove or store solid or hazardous waste.

8. Communications and information technology:

  • Businesses that maintain the infrastructure of call -centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, Internet Exchange Points, Points of Presence, and Network Access Points.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment.
  • News providers.
  • Network Operations staff.
  • Businesses that repair or maintain communication facilities.
  • Businesses that provide support or equipment for remote work.
  • Customer service providers.
  • Datacenter operators for all industries.
  • Cybersecurity providers.

9. Other community or government-based operations and essential functions:

  • Construction services.
  • Businesses that support construction through security, sanitation, inspection, or manufacturing of supplies.
  • Elections personnel.
  • The judicial system.
  • Businesses that support the judicial system.
  • News providers.
  • Businesses that support news providers.
  • Weather forecasters.
  • Businesses that provide vetting and credentialing for essential workers.
  • Customs and immigration workers.
  • Educational institutions that support online learning.
  • Real estate services.
  • Businesses that support the supply chain to virus relief efforts.

10. Critical manufacturing:

  • Manufacturers of metals (including steel and aluminum), industrial minerals, and semiconductors.
  • Manufacturers of products for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with critical infrastructure.
  • Manufacturers of medical supplies and equipment.
  • Businesses that support the chain supply of medical equipment manufacturers.

11. Hazardous materials:

Businesses that manage or dispose of hazardous materials associated with critical infrastructure.

12. Financial services:

  • Banks.
  • Debt counseling and management services.
  • Manufacturers of debit and credit cards.
  • Point of sale support services for essential workers.

13. Chemical:

  • Businesses supporting the chemical and industrial gas supply chains.
  • Transportation services for chemicals.
  • Manufacturers of protective cleaning and medical solutions, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, fragrances, and protective packaging.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of chlorine and alkali manufacturing, single-use plastics, and protective packaging.

14. Defense and industrial base:

  • Businesses that support essential services are required to meet national security commitments.
  • Manufacturers of firearms and equipment needed by the armed forces.

15. Commercial facilities:

  • Businesses that support the supply chain of materials used for construction.
  • Hardware stores.
  • Appliance stores.
  • Businesses that repair or maintain HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces, and other heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment.

16. Residential/shelter facilities and services:

  • Businesses that support dependent groups or individuals like rehabilitation centers or elderly care facilities.
  • Businesses that support shelters and other in-need groups.
  • Animal shelters.
  • Real estate businesses.
  • Construction.

17. Hygiene:

  • Manufacturers of hygiene products.
  • Businesses that support hygiene manufacturers.
  • Sanitation and cleaning services.

18. Life-sustaining retail:

  • Retail stores that provide food, beverages, and cleaning products.
  • Agricultural supply and equipment stores.
  • Hardware stores.
  • Medical supply and equipment stores.
  • First responder and healthcare worker supply stores.

19. Food, beverage, and agriculture:

  • Food and beverage manufacturing.
  • Farming.
  • Fishing.
  • Hunting.
  • Baking.
  • Transporation of food and beverages.
  • Animal shelters, rescues, kennels, and adoption facilities.

20. Charitable and social services:

  • Food banks.
  • Shelters.
  • Social services.
  • Businesses or organizations that support in-need groups or individuals.

21. Media:

  • Newspapers.
  • Radio.
  • Television.
  • Other news providers.

22. Gas stations and transportation services:

  • Gas stations.
  • Auto repair shops.
  • Auto parts manufacturers and distributors.
  • Farm equipment manufacturers and distributors.
  • Construction equipment manufacturers and distributors.
  • Vehicle repair services.

23. Financial services:

  • Banks and credit unions.
  • Loan companies.
  • Financial markets.
  • Security institutions.

24. Housing, buildings, and construction:

  • Construction.
  • Cleaning services.
  • Plumbers.
  • Electricians.
  • Operating engineers.
  • HVAC technicians.
  • Moving and relocation services.

25. Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services:

  • Post offices.
  • Shipping and delivery services.
  • Food delivery services.

26. Laundry services:

  • Laundromats.
  • Dry cleaners.
  • Industrial laundry services.

27. Restaurants:

  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises.

28. Supplies for life-sustaining businesses:

  • Businesses that manufacture or sell materials needed by life-sustaining businesses like computers, electronics, appliances, and IT equipment.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell hardware, paint, or flat glass.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell electrical, heating, or plumbing materials.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell hygiene products.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell sanitary equipment.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell food, food additives, ingredients, and components.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell optics and photography equipment.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell food and beverages, chemicals, soaps, and detergents.
  • Businesses that manufacture or sell firearms.

29. Transportation:

  • Airlines, taxis, vehicle rental services, and paratransit.

30. Home-based care services:

  • Home-based care for adults, seniors, children, or people with disabilities, substance abuse disorders, and/or mental illnesses.

31. Professional services:

  • Legal services.
  • Accounting services.
  • Insurance services.
  • Real estate services.

32. Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries.

Businesses that manufacture, distribute, or supply products for:

  • Pharmaceutical businesses.
  • Technology businesses.
  • Biotechnology facilities.
  • Healthcare facilities.
  • Chemical and sanitization businesses.
  • Waste pickup and disposal services.
  • Agriculture services.
  • Food and beverage services.
  • Transportation services.
  • Energy services.
  • Other life-sustaining industries.

33. Critical labor union functions:

  • Administration of welfare and health funds.
  • Personnel that checks in on the wellbeing of essential workers.

34. Hotels and motels:

  • Hotels and motels only offering lodging and take-out food services.

35. Funeral services:

  • Funeral homes.
  • Crematoriums.
  • Mortuaries.
  • Cemeteries.

What was Considered a Life-Sustainng Business During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several states announced that businesses would need to close for a lockdown period to minimize infections. Businesses closed physical offices and locations where in-person contact would take place. The first mandate was for most U.S. states to only have essential businesses remain open.

In reaction to many businesses not following this mandate, some states declared that only life-sustaining businesses could remain open.


Which businesses are life-sustaining?

A life-sustaining business is one that provides essential services or products that others need to survive. This includes food and beverage manufacturing and distribution, medical supply distribution, maintenance of power and water plants, and more.

If you are unsure of whether your business is life-sustaining, you can follow our guide to see if you should appeal to remain open during the lockdown.

Can I appeal the lockdown?

Yes, your business can appeal the lockdown to continue operations if it is life-sustaining. This means that your business ensures that basic human needs are met, or your business contributes to the supply chain that keeps life-sustaining businesses operational.

Can businesses stay open if they appeal the lockdown?

No. Businesses must remain closed unless they are approved to be open during the lockdown. This is to prevent nonessential businesses from operating and potentially facilitating the spread of COVID-19.

Can businesses work remotely?

If businesses are able to work remotely, they may do so. These businesses must follow social distancing protocols, meaning that employees must remain at home and avoid contact with others.

Related Articles:

Disaster Recovery Plan

A step-by-step guide to creating a small business disaster recovery plan.

Business Continuity Plan

A step-by-step guide and free downloadable template for business continuity planning.

What is an Essential Worker?

Classifying essential workers, their responsibilities, and state requirements.

What is a Nonessential Worker?

Classifying nonessential workers, their responsibilities, and state requirements.

Essential Businesses

A guide to which businesses are considered essential during the COVID-19 lockdown.