This time we are experiencing is stranger than ever, and getting out of the house has never felt more exciting. Quarantine has locked us up in our houses, and we are restricted in what we can do. In my own experience, I have only left the house to go running — other than that, I have been locked up.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, updated April 29, almost every state had some form of restriction issued by their governors. One of the most notable restrictions that many states have is that restaurants can only do take out orders. That restriction is understandable, considering there is a nationwide urging to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
In most states, there is a restriction on which businesses can be opened based on whether they are deemed essential or not. In Washington, where I live, all nonessential businesses are “limited to minimum operations or remote work.” All recreational facilities like movie theaters, gyms and bowling alleys have been closed. Construction companies have been told by Governor Jay Inslee that previously started projects may be completed but must abide by physical distancing safety standards.
What has been deemed essential? According to a Business Insider article that references The Department of Homeland Security, essential businesses include, but are not limited to: supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, healthcare, gas stations, post offices and shipping businesses, food banks, transportation, educational businesses and any business that helps the businesses that have been mentioned. Most restaurants have also been considered essential, but, as mentioned above, they are strictly limited to take out only. Ultimately, the nation does not have restrictions on what is an essential business, but cities and states choose for themselves.
Further on in the same Business Insider article, the author mentioned what is debated as an essential business. Is a gun store essential? Are labor unions essential? Are home office supply stores essential?
The flat answer is no.
I believe that there are essential businesses and there are nonessential businesses. I also believe there is no gray area. There are businesses people can live without during this time period, like a gun store. Do you need to buy a gun at this moment? No, you do not need to ever buy a gun. It is more a matter of, “Do you want to buy a gun?” The nation would be able to live without gun stores if each state and city chose to. Construction is a harder topic to discuss. Do we need to have construction at this moment? No, we do not need it. On the other hand, it depends on how long we are in this pandemic. Households could grow too large during this time period, and if there are not enough places to live and no construction being done, where will people go? Hopefully, there will not be a time where we reach that circumstance and have to sacrifice the health of construction workers for the lives of others.
The discussion between whether a business is essential is in the hands of the states and cities in our nation. If the business is essential to our daily life during this pandemic like the grocery store or the bank, then it is safe to keep it open. For the businesses we can live without, keep them closed to keep more people healthy during this time period. It will be great to see the time everything has opened back up to normal, but for now it is best to stay away from the wants that are not essential.