By Andrew Selsky, Associated Press
The coronavirus pandemic is defining for the globe what’s “essential” and what things we really can’t do without, even though we might not need them for survival.
Attempting to slow the spread of the virus, authorities in many places are determining what shops and services can remain open. They’re also restricting citizens from leaving their homes. Stay-at-home orders or guidance are affecting more than one-fifth of the world’s population.
This has left many contemplating an existential question: What, really, is essential?
Whether it is in Asia, Europe, Africa or the United States, there’s general agreement: Health care workers, law enforcement, utility workers, food production and communications are generally exempt from lockdowns.
But some lists of exempted activities reflect a national identity, or the efforts of lobbyists.
In some states, golf, guns and cannabis have been ruled essential, raising eyebrows and — in the case of guns — a good deal of ire. In many places, booze is also on the list of essentials.
Britain at first kept liquor stores off its list of businesses allowed to remain open, but after reports of supermarkets running out of beer, wine and spirits, the government quickly added them.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey included golf courses and medical marijuana dispensaries on his list of essential businesses.
Officials in Phoenix encouraged the city’s 1.7 million residents to “get outside, get exercise and practice responsible social distancing” on golf courses, parks and trails.
Mayors of five other Arizona cities pushed back, telling Ducey that including golf courses and payday lenders was taking the definition of “essential” too far.
AP Photo Ted S. Warren