What is an essential business?

Cities and states across the country are issuing communitywide lockdowns and “shelter in place” orders, effectively shutting down the majority of businesses for an undetermined period of time in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Only essential businesses can stay open. So is your business essential? All business owners consider their business essential. Cities and states decide what’s essential business. Here’s a good list as provided by the federal government that serves as a good guide. If you think our business is essential and should remain open, please contact your local municipality for a waiver.

  • Supermarkets and grocery stores
  • Big-box stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Convenience stores and discount stores
  • Garbage collection
  • Healthcare operations
  • Daycare centers
  • Payroll services
  • Public safety
  • Hardware stores
  • Home maintenance
  • Gas stations and auto-repair shops
  • Banks
  • Post offices and shipping businesses
  • Veterinary clinics and pet stores
  • Farmers’ markets and food banks
  • Businesses that provide necessities to shelters and economically disadvantaged people
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
  • Agriculture and food processing
  • Warehousing, storage, and distribution
  • Transportation, including airlines, taxis, rideshare programs, and vehicle rentals
  • Businesses that allow essential businesses to operate

Nonessential businesses generally don’t provide groceries, health or financial support, or utilities. Restaurants fall in this category, but most locations have allowed restaurants to continue to operate as long as they close dining rooms and switch to exclusively take-out and delivery. Here’s a list of some obvious non-essential businesses:

  • Theaters
  • Gyms and recreation centers
  • Salons and spas
  • Museums
  • Casinos and racetracks
  • Shopping malls
  • Bowling alleys
  • Sporting and concert venues
  • Restaurants (Take out is being allowed)
  • Liquor stores and bars
  • Industrial manufacturing not related to essential functions
  • Construction
  • Labor unions
  • Marijuana dispensaries
  • Home office supply stores
  • Other businesses