March 20, 2020 / 5:40 PM / in 18 days

Pentagon says defense workforce is critical and must keep working

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has issued guidance that workers in the defense industry are critical infrastructure workers amid the coronavirus pandemic and should keep working, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

The move provides guidance to state and local governments as well as military bases and other secure facilities to allow contractors to come to work.

The guidance was not meant to supersede local laws.

“Companies aligned with the essential critical infrastructure workforce definition are expected to maintain their normal work schedules,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said in the memo dated Friday.

On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security released a list of what it deemed to be workers in critical industries during the coronoavirus pandemic. The list includes healthcare workers, financial system workers as well as defense industry workers.

State and local laws still take precedence, one industry executive said, but the Pentagon guidance today will help those jurisdictions if they were seeking further direction on how to proceed.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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