What's An Essential Business? It Depends On Where You Live And Who You Ask – KUNR Public Radio

A few weeks ago, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak encouraged all nonessential businesses to close their doors. Then, a few days later, on March 20, he ordered them to do so.

“If your business is nonessential to providing sustenance and for the everyday safety, health and wellbeing of Nevadans, you must shut down,” Sisolak said.

But what’s an essential business? Beyond obvious ones such as hospitals and grocery stores, there’s no simple answer.

Take mining, which is considered essential under Sisolak’s order. Though when asked about it, Sisolak had a hard time explaining why.

“I do not claim to be an expert on mining,” he said. “We are consulting with the professionals, the experts as it comes to that, the same as we do with construction. And we’ll come back to you when I have more information.”

Greg Walker, the executive managing director for Nevada Gold Mines, said he knows the reason.

“Nevada only has really two drivers for its economy,” Walker said. “The first being gaming and tourism and the second being mining and industry.”

Walker said his company employs 7,000 people in Nevada and supports thousands of additional jobs indirectly. That’s essential, he said, especially when you look at rising unemployment.

“The product we produce may not be essential during this pandemic, but the fact that we’re one of the main engines still driving the economy and keeping [the] Nevada economy afloat is essential, and I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s viewed and that’s how we view it,” he said.

But what about other industries and businesses who believe they’re essential for the economy, too, but aren’t on the list? Who decides? The federal government offers some guidelines, but they’re not clear either.

“Yeah, the guidelines are wide open. That’s in some ways the headline here,” said Adie Tomer

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