Vehicle service and repair personnel are considered “essential” and may continue to operate during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a guidance list issued of essential critical infrastructure workers by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The March 19 list, according to DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), “identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction and performing management functions, among others.

“As state and local communities consider COVID-19-related restrictions, CISA is offering this list to assist prioritizing activities related to continuity of operations and incident response,” CISA said of the 14-page list.

The list is advisory in nature and not meant to be either a federal directive or an exhaustive list of critical infrastructure sectors, CISA said.The list identifies 13 sectors critical to the smooth running of the U.S. government and economy, including health care, law enforcement, food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, public works, energy, communications and information technology, and financial services.

Under “Transportation and Logistics,” the first listed group is “employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers and workers that maintain and inspect infrastructure (including those that require cross-border travel).”

Further down on that list, “automotive repair and maintenance facilities” also are named specifically.
Several associations representing the auto repair and maintenance industry, including the Auto Care Association (ACA), the Tire Industry Association (TIA), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), have advocated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for the designation of their industry as an essential service. Such a designation, they said, was a way of protecting the mostly small businesses that comprise the industry and ensuring they stay open during the crisis.

“This federal directive, hopefully, will provide important guidance to state and local officials in the development of any emergency orders,” said ACA President and CEO Bill Hanvey.