West Virginia’s Governor Ensures Financial and Insurance Services are Essential

March 24, 2020Legal Alerts

West Virginia’s Governor Ensures Financial and Insurance Services are Essential

On March 23, 2020, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice included financial services institutions as an industry or business that shall continue to operate under his Stay-at-Home Order.  His Executive Order No 9-20 will be effective on March 24, 2020 at 8:00 p.m.

In issuing his Order, Governor Justice relied in part on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA’s) Memorandum of Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response (CISA Guidance).  The CISA Guidance provides definitions of Essential Business Operations that many states are incorporating into their respective stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.  See https://www.cisa.gov/news/2020/03/19/cisa-releases-guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workers-during-covid-19 

CISA’s Guidance includes financial services among many others, so Governor Justice specifically incorporated the definitions of “Essential Businesses and Operations” set forth in CISA’s Memorandum into his Executive Order No 9-20.  (EO ¶ 3)

The CISA Guidance identifies Financial Services as follows:

• Workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital markets activities);

• Workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments (e.g., armored cash carriers); and

• Workers who support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations centers.

Paragraph j. of Governor Justice’s Stay-at-Home Order expands on the CISA Guidance, ordering that “the following industries and businesses are [also] specifically included as Essential Businesses and Operations” under this Order:

Financial and insurance institutions.  Banks and banking services including without limitation ATM services, currency exchanges, consumer lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, payday lenders, affiliates of financial institutions, professional debt collectors and related creditor service workers, workers engaged in payment clearing and settlement, wholesale funding, and capital markets activities, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, institutions selling financial products, insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance clams and agency services.

Accordingly, while the intent of the Order is “to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and to disrupt the spread of the coronavirus, and to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, including the closure of additional businesses and facilities throughout the state”, it is also clear that Governor Justice intends to ensure that financial services activities must continue to operate and are essential services.