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The Northeastern Retail Lumber Association (NRLA), reported that through executive action Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania have designated building material suppliers as essential businesses. The decisions support the belief that building material suppliers can play an important role in building the health and safety for communities during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“NRLA members are locally owned businesses that have played a critical role in supporting our communities during emergency situations such as hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, and fires,” NRLA president Rita Ferris said in a public statement. “We are thrilled to have three Governors take the lead in making sure that flow of construction materials and goods that support safe, healthy homes are readily available to the public and construction companies.”

The NRLA operates in 11 states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and is advocating for the LBM industry to be deemed essential across the United States.

“While the safety of our employees and customers is our priority, and we are following all safety precautions, building material suppliers want to be supportive of individuals and communities,” Jay Curtis, president of Curtis Lumber Company in Ballston Spa, N.Y., said in release from the NRLA. “During times of uncertainty and confusion, the public has come to know us as a trusted and reliable partner that must be allowed to fully operate without workforce and capacity restrictions.”

NRLA director of legislative and regulatory affairs Kirk Ives said he hopes other states follow the lead of New York, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Retail operations and the service industry across the United States have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. As a result, questions have centered around whether retail businesses are classified as “essential” during the health crisis. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf issued a mandatory shutdown order for businesses that are not considered “life sustaining.” The order calls for the mandatory shutdown of specialty trade contractors and residential and non-residential building companies.