On Sunday during an emergency session, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement entitled: “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.” The DHS defined functioning critical infrastructure as “imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being.” The tower industry fell under their criterium as having “a special responsibility in these times to continue operations.”
“This guidance and accompanying list are intended to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response,” the DHS stated.
“WIA thanks the Department of Homeland Security for expeditiously providing the Declaration of National Emergency Access Letter so that wireless technicians can access essential communications facilities,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “It is crucial to maintain and service broadband infrastructure during this time so that businesses can continue to operate. This action by DHS, built upon a provision championed by WIA in the 2018 SANDy Act, provides tower owners and authorized technicians access to communications infrastructure during emergencies, making available the means necessary to ensure that our nation’s networks remain up and running at their best during this critical time.”
This document gives guidance to state, local, tribal, territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions. CISA made a technical update to the document on March 23, 2020, to clarify the description of a small number of essential services and functions in the list.
The Communications Sector-Specific Plan details how the National Infrastructure Protection Plan risk management framework is implemented within the context of the unique characteristics and risk landscape of the sector. Each Sector-Specific Agency develops a sector-specific plan through a coordinated effort involving its public and private sector partners. The Department of Homeland Security is designated as the Sector-Specific Agency for the Communications Sector.