What Is an Essential Business?

Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies can remain open during the shutdown.
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The number of local and state officials ordering people to remain in their homes has risen in an attempt to lower the number of people being infected with the coronavirus.

Officials such as California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have issued mandatory stay-at-home orders for people unless they are essential workers. Other county and local officials have ordered people to remain at home unless they are working for essential businesses.

Here is what is considered an essential business. It varies from state to state and even within your city and county. Check with government websites or their social media pages.

1. Grocery stores

2. Pharmacies

3. Hospitals

4. Healthcare providers including physicians, dentists, biotechnology companies, health care suppliers, medical research facilities, veterinary care and mental health providers

5. Blood banks

6. Shelters and social services

7. News media outlets

8. Airports

9. Insurance, accounting and legal services

10. Government agencies such as law enforcement and post office

11. Restaurants (take out and delivery options only)

12. Cannabis dispensaries and related companies

Grove Bags is more of an essential business right now than in the past because other essential businesses can’t compliantly get products rapidly in the hands of consumers without the company's packaging, said Jack Grover, founder and CEO of Grove Bags, a cannabis packaging business based in Cleveland Ohio.

“This makes it both our responsibility and top priority right now to get our packaging into the hands of product suppliers both within the cannabis space and industries outside of it as quickly as we possibly can to help ensure consumers can still get medicinal products like cannabis that they desperately need," he said.

13. Utilities

14. Gas stations

15. Farms, other food manufacturers and food equipment manufacturers

Tim Gruver, a sorter at a Donald, Oregon hazelnut factory, said he feels comfortable sorting the raw nuts from the fields that come on to the belt by hand.

“Personally, I feel as safe going to work as anywhere else thanks to the strict hygiene we are all required to maintain as food service workers,” he said. “We're all required to wash our hands for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer before and after our breaks. Anyone who is directly involved with food processing on the nut sorting belts or packing lines wears gloves.”

Hazelnuts are among the state's largest revenue generators and the factory is still considered essential to the Willamette Valley's agricultural industry.

“Employees are encouraged to stay home if exhibiting illness and management is generally accommodating,” Gruver said.

16. Delivery drivers for packages, food and other necessities

Here are some non-essential businesses, but they can vary widely by region.

1. Shopping centers and malls

2. Amusement parks

3. Clothing stores

4. Entertainment locations such as concert halls 

5. Casinos

6. Electronic retailers

7. Luxury goods

8. Dine-in restaurants

9. Bars

10. Movie theaters

11. Museums