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This List Keeps Track of How LBM and Construction Are Affected by Shelter-in-Place Orders

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Intense lobbying by industry groups appear to have helped lumberyards and hardware stores win an exemption from state and local orders to close non-essential businesses. Builders have fared slightly less well, while for remodelers (as opposed to repairmen and tradespeople) the situation is murkier.

Several states based their orders in part on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that lists what it regards as essential industries that should remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first the memo only vaguely exempted lumberyards under a provision for forest products, but no other dealers were mentioned, and construction work--residential, commercial, and remodeling--wasn't mentioned. But on March 28, after furious lobbying by scores of groups, the federal CISA memo was updated to cite construction workers, dealers, distributors, and repair people and construction workers.

Here's the new language involving dealers:

And here is the section involving construction (in the final bullet point):

Many--but not all--states and localities reference the CISA memo in their orders, while some others basically copy the previous CISA language without citing it specifically. The report below tells what's what with each governing body.



Gov. Kay Ivey has finally issued a stay-home order. Her April 3 decree exempts hardware, home improvement, and building material stores, as well as stores that sell electrical, plumbing, and heating materials. It also exempts construction and construction-related services. The order also cites the federal CISA memo, thus providing extra justification to the groups above to keep working.


Gov. Doug Ducey issued a new stay-home order on March 30, but its definition of essential and thus exempt business falls back to a March 23 list of essential services. That list specifically exempts hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, and heating materials; all construction, including plumbers, electricians, HVAC people, and painters; and sellers/distributors suppliers of essential businesses (such as construction and hardware).


The Golden State's order cites the CISA guidelines, and several lumberyards in California said they have received requests from officials to stay open. Gov. Gavin Newsom then made it official on March 22 with a list of critical infrastructure workers that included construction material suppliers as well as construction companies

  • However, on March 31, residential and commercial construction was all but banned in the San Francisco Bay area when the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo plus the city of Berkeley issued the same stay-at-home order. Now the only construction allowed is basically what keeps essential infrastructure going; supports health care, affordable, and temporary housing; or is needed merely to shut down the job site. As for remodeling, only vital, can't-wait repair work is allowed. Here's the general announcement and a link to one of the orders.

  • In the city of Los Angeles, If you work in a lumberyard or hardware store, if you're a carpenter or handyman or do remodeling work within city limits, you now must wear a mask. That's per the latest order from the mayor, issued April 7.


Rather than issue a stay-at-home order, Colorado specifically directs employers to reduce their in-person workforce by 50%. However, the list of businesses exempted from this reduction include hardware stores, building material stores, farm supply stores, distribution centers, builders and skilled trades.


Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order refers to the CISA memo and also specifically exempts construction as well as "vendors of essential services and goods necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential business." The order also says the state will consider requests from exemptions by others.


The First State's list of exempt businesses looks much like Pennsylvania's, but it's much looser; among other things, it permits commercial and residential construction, and includes garden centers alongside building material and supplies dealers. In addition, it adds four-digit NAICS codes to each listing. Remodeling is grouped under the same four-digit NAICS code as residential construction, so it's clear here that this group is exempt.

District of Columbia (Washington)

The stay-home order here lasts longer than other places--until April 24. It exempts construction and building trades, including roofers, carpenters, and bricklayers. Also exempt are businesses that sell supplies and materials to maintain commercial and residential buildings--notably big-box stores and plumbing, electrical and HVAC distributors. The order cites the federal CISA guidelines on essential businesses, so lumberyards are deemed exempt.


Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 1 issued first the first time a stay-home order for the entire state. The order cites the federal CISA guidelines, so building material dealers, hardware stores, distributors, builders, and remodelers are exempt. It also puts going to a religious service on its list of essential activities and thus is exempt. And a second order also issued on April. 1 declares that no local jurisdiction can set standards that supersede what the governor has ordered.


Gov. Brian Kemp said April 1 that he planned to issue his first state-wide stay-home order on April 2. The plan ends a situation in which Georgia was a patchwork state of varying regulations. One of the first actions was in Atlanta, where Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an