Most businesses are already closed due to coronavirus. Some states have not taken this step yet, but probably will soon. The businesses that are being allowed to continue to operate in states that have restricted travel in place are only permitting “essential businesses” to remain open.
Social distancing is being practiced in many states, but all this does is to encourage people to not meet in groups of a certain size. It also tells people to stay away from crowds. The idea of social distancing – if practiced – should help keep the numbers of new infections down. Since people often do not even know if they have coronavirus until after a couple of days at a minimum, large cities especially would benefit if it were followed.
What Does Essential Business Mean?
The term “essential business” is not a term that is uniform throughout the United States. This means that what is meant by it in one state may not be what the state next to it means. Generally, it means that a business with services that are crucial to the smooth and ongoing operation and health of people at home or business needs to have. When this meaning is combined with “social distancing,” the result should be rather clear.
People at home need to ensure that all of their home systems continue to operate (electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, cable technicians – phone, TV, and Internet, etc.), and they also need food and medicine. Pets also need food. Gas stations must be kept open, even though travel should be limited with most people staying at home.
A dividing line occurs in most places with those stores that provide extras. Most stores can stay open if part of the store has supplies that people need as well as products that are more of a “want” than a need. These are big box stores that are usually very large and sell all kinds of products. New York City has also listed bars as being allowed to remain open.
Other Essential Businesses
In addition to the basic needs that people have in their homes, there are also a large number of other businesses and agencies that must stay open. These are needed to ensure the smooth functioning of society. They include:
- Law enforcement & fire departments
- Utility companies
- Food banks
- Government services
- Food production (caterers, restaurants – take-out only)
- Banks and other financial services
- Janitors and cleaning services
- Mail and Shipping
- Child care services
- Funeral parlors
- And more.
States are currently being allowed to make their own interpretation of what “essential businesses” means. Each employer needs to be aware of the exact way that their state or local community interprets that term because fines may be given to those who break the conditions.
If an employer wants employees to come in when it is not an essential business, they cannot be fired. If terminated, they have legal recourse and may sue.
Businesses that have already established a way to sell online have a way that may enable them to survive. Focus on this avenue to enable your business to continue to produce an income and try to stay in the black.
Find one or more products that people need while they have to stay at home and promote it for sales. You will also need to verify that these products are in stock and that they can ship them to you or directly to your customers.
If this option is not available, it will be necessary to sit it out until the essential services requirement ends. This is likely to take two months or more – hopefully no longer than that.