Homeland Security Recognizes C-stores as Essential Businesses
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security released updated COVID-19 guidance identifying the essential critical infrastructure workforce during the ongoing national emergency. Among them: convenience stores.
Earlier this week, NACS sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security urging the agency to designate c-stores and their suppliers and distributors as critical businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its updated guidance, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recognizes key businesses as essential, including:
- Retail fuel centers, such as gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them
- Retailers that sell food and beverage products
- Restaurant carry-out and quick-serve food operations
- Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees
- Employees and firms supporting food, feed and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
For the complete list of essential businesses, click here.
The CISA guidance, however, is advisory and is not a federal directive to states, whereby state and local governments are not required to provide the same level of recognition.
NACS, the association representing the c-store industry, said it hopes and expects that state and local governments heed the department's decisions and do not interfere with businesses that the department deems to be critical.
According to NACS, it has been working closely with state association partners to support their work to get c-stores and their supplier companies designated as essential on the state and local level.
On March 18, the association sent a letter to congressional leadership asking for relief for the c-store industry in the third stimulus package, which Congress is currently drafting.
In its letter, NACS asked the following:
- Any funds available to businesses should be available to businesses of all sizes
- The federal government should provide federally backed business interruption insurance
- Business loan funds should be made available to businesses of all sizes
- Any business, regardless of size, deemed to be an essential business should have access to the tax credits for the new paid time off requirements
- Treasury should allow employers to let employees cash out accrued paid time off without tax penalty
- Businesses should be allowed to carry back losses sustained this year to past tax years
- The tax code should be amended to allow for accelerated depreciation of assets
In addition, NACS organized a joint association letter to Congress requesting it to include language in the stimulus package to expand the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authority and grant hot food waivers for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) families who need added flexibility during this time.