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Photo Courtesy of Kieffer-Starlite
Photo Courtesy of Kieffer-Starlite

Essential Business Designation

ISA is working with states and the federal government to make sure that the sign and graphics industry is considered an “essential business” that must remain open to continue to serve vital infrastructure, manufacturing and retail services throughout our country.


Please click here for the latest information on each individual state's local and emergency orders (this document will be updated as circumstances warrant).

Many localities have also mandated the closing of “non-essential” businesses. ISA’s snapshot includes information on key countywide shutdowns in Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and other states.

It is likely that more states and localities will continue to impose business closures in the days and weeks to come.


At this point, more than a dozen states provide waivers or exemptions to be considered as an essential service. Check the ISA document for details on the process in each state.


“Essential businesses” which are being allowed to stay open to serve the public typically include (but are not limited to) health care facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores, auto parts stores, banks and gas stations. These “essential businesses” depend on the sign and graphics industry for their marketing and communications needs. While sign and graphics companies are not being explicitly listed as “essential businesses,” our industry supplies “essential businesses” and therefore should be allowed to remain open, to an extent. Keep in mind that even if your business supports essential businesses, that may only address certain aspects of your business, and a limited number of your employees.

ISA is urging state officials and federal agencies to classify the sign, graphics and visual communications industry as "essential." If you’d like to ask your state and local officials to do the same, please feel free to use this language and customize it as you see fit.


Sign and graphics companies must have a plan that meets CDC recommended guidelines to maintain employee safety, and determine how many employees must be in the business’s physical location in order to do the “essential” work.

Many sign and graphics companies provide temporary signage to communicate valuable messages to the public during difficult times. ISA encourages all sign and graphics companies to contribute to these efforts as much as possible.

You can also find a list of suppliers and distributors who are open for business and can provide vital resources.

If you want to increase the possibility that your sign, graphics and visual communications business is considered an “essential business” or provides an “essential service,” an essential business/service provides products to health care facilities, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. ISA recommends that you should be doing the following:

  • Make sure that your facility has a safety plan in line with CDC recommendations.
  • Implement a policy to have only employees working on these “essential” projects coming into work, and designate them as essential using this template which the employee should carry with them getting to- and from work.
  • Allow all non-essential personnel or employees who are uncomfortable coming into work to work remotely.
  • Get documentation from your “essential business” customers that they are in need of signs and graphics from your business to communicate with the public using this template.
  • Keep these documents confirming business relationships on record.
  • Contact your local public health officials to let them know how your business has a safety plan in place and is serving “essential businesses.”
  • Reach out to your Mayor or City Manager to brief him or her on how your business provides signs and graphics to “essential businesses” and ask them to champion your cause to the Governor and/or State Legislators.

    For more information, please contact David Hickey.