April 16, 2020
On March 25, Governor Little issued an Order to Self-Isolate for the State of Idaho. On Wednesday, April 15, Governor Little extended Idaho’s stay-at-home order through April 30. The Order directs all individuals living within the State of Idaho to self-isolate at their place of residence. Individuals may only leave their place of residence for “Essential Activities”, “Essential Government Functions”, or to operate “Essential Businesses”. Relevant, particularly, to contractors is the following:
- Idaho’s Order permits individuals to leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operation and maintenance of “Essential Infrastructure”, including, but not limited to, public works construction, commercial construction, construction of housing (particularly [but not limited to] affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness), water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil, refining, mining, roads and highways, provided that Social Distancing Requirements as further defined by the Order are followed to the extent possible.
- The Order goes on to expressly provide that “Essential Businesses” is defined to include “Essential Infrastructure,” i.e. construction activities.
- Further, incorporated into Idaho’s Order is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the United States Homeland Security’s March 19 Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers relative to the Country’s COVID-19 response. The memorandum provides that workers, such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC technicians, landscapers, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences, businesses, and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support the COVID-19 response are defined as "Essential" Workers.
The federal guidance comes with the caveat that construction-related activities may continue to the extent they are related to our Nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Idaho’s Order is much broader. In Idaho, it is clear that construction services and work is deemed “Essential” and may continue, including public works and both commercial and residential construction. The Order expressly provides that “[a]ll Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open.”
Failure to comply with Governor Little’s Order through the end of April exposes you to a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.
Note that, under the extended directive, out-of-state people visiting Idaho for non-essential travel will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. “We don’t need people coming here from a place with a high community spread,” Governor Little said.
In summary, the following guidance is offered:
- In-state and out-of-state contractors should clearly identify their essential activity-related purpose to any law enforcement officer when not self-isolating in their residence. For example, if you are driving to a job site for work, make sure to identify this purpose to law enforcement if questioned.
- Social Distancing should be practiced to the extent possible. Again, this may be easier to do for, say, a landscape sub on a small residential project. This may be more difficult for other trades that normally work in closer proximity. General contractors should manage their schedule and subs to practice Social Distancing to the fullest extent possible.
- Minimize on-site project staffing to the extent possible.
- Enable employees to practice additional sanitation efforts, including self-care and the project environment (i.e. provide hand-washing stations, hand sanitizer, wipe down project surfaces, including small handheld tools and equipment).
- Provide masks and gloves to employees (i.e. Personal Protection Equipment or “PPE”).
- Do not share water or other PPE.
The construction attorneys at Gordon & Rees are here to help you navigate this unprecedented time. Let us assist you take the necessary steps to protect yourself now, including a review of your contracts and applicable law. COVID-19 is effecting the supply chain, workforce, and other project delays and impacts across the construction industry. Contact our office to understand your rights and potential remedies for the impacts you are encountering on the job site.
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 Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Order of the Director, Order to Self-Isolate, dated March 25, 2020 (the “Order”).
 As defined by Section 8 of the Order.
 See Order, at Paragraph 8(j) (defining “Social Distancing Requirements” as “maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.”).
 See Order, at Paragraph 8(f)(i).
 Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During Covid-19 Response issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency of the United States Homeland Security, dated March 19, 2020.
 See Order, at Paragraph 5.
 See Order (citing Idaho Code § 56-1003(7)(c) (“[A]ny person who violates an order of isolation or quarantine shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”).