To slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of states and the federal government are setting limits on workforce numbers for non-essential manufacturing and business. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes the important role our industry plays in the supply chain and considers forest products an “essential industry” that should remain operational during the pandemic. Included in the DHS released guidance on essential workers are the following key provisions:
Our products are critical components of the supply chains required to produce and deliver food, pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, and emergency supplies. By continuing to operate, we are helping to ensure essential goods are available at healthcare facilities, grocery stores, and homes.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, states have taken a patchwork approach to protect the health and safety of residents. Many states, including California, have issued statewide shelter in place orders allowing essential employment operations only. In California, it was determined that International Paper’s 25 facilities are an essential part of the food supply system. Government Relations is monitoring changes across multiple states to make sure there is clarity around the “essential” nature of our manufacturing operations.
States without shelter in place mandates are also taking preventative measures for resident well-being. For instance, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a series of Executive Orders mandating a decrease in in-office workforce by 75%, defining essential services and signing paid sick leave legislation into law. International Paper worked with state and federal legislators in New York State to ensure that our industry was clearly defined as “essential manufacturers.”
International Paper will continue to advocate for our manufacturing facilities, supply chain partners and their employees, around the world, to be deemed “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses” so that we can continue to meet our customers’ needs and help provide life-saving goods during this challenging time.