As it attempts to limit the spread of coronavirus, the Morrison government continues to use the term essentials for employees, public gatherings and services. But what is important? Who decides? Essential, by its very definition, means something essential, indispensable or unavoidable. There are no precedents in place for governments when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no set list of essential services. “Essential” is a dynamic term that changes constantly and can lead to confusion.
Essential Confused Messages
On March 22, the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews demand that all non-essential activities shut down within 48 hours. He said that supermarkets, banks, and pharmacies were essential, but he didn’t give a complete list of essential services. Naturally, confusion reigned. In Ballan, a rural Victorian town, for example, certain stores were close while others remain open.
A number of retailers have decided to shutter their stores in order to protect their employees and the public. They consider their business non-essential. Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister, stated that a meeting had reached an agreement with the national cabinet to limit shopping for food, essential supplies, and what you can buy.
He also said that his wife’s recent purchase a few jigsaw puzzles was absolutely necessary. This statement may be comforting to hobby and toy retailers, but in reality these businesses might not be consider essential.
Pastries And Guns
There are also differences across the globe about what is consider essential in any COVID-19 restrictions. According to a memo by the Department of Homeland Security, employees of gun shops and gun manufacturers in the United States should be considered essential workers. European necessities, according to some, include Belgian Fries and French Baguettes, as well as Dutch Cannabis. It’s also possible to find shops that specialize in pastries, wine, and cheese in France.
According to reports, the Irish government has published a list of essential workers. They include fuel stations, pharmacies, pet shops, and fuel stations. However, opticians, motor repair, and bicycle repair outlets are not include in the essential retailers list.
There is wide agreement in Australia that service stations, supermarkets, and allied health (pharmacy and chiropractic, physiotherapy and psychology, and banking) are important business and services.
Freight, logistics, and home delivery are all essential. Australia Post states that posties and delivery drivers are still available, but some offices have temporarily been close. While some bottle shops may remain open, others have imposed restrictions on the amount of bottles that can be purchase.
The government is adding more services, businesses and activities to its non essential services list. These include cafes, food courts and pubs. There are exceptions for some of these entities. Cafes can be open for take-out only. If they adhere to the rule of one person per four-metre, a barber or hairdresser may trade.
Other issues remain unclear, such as indoor and outdoor markets farmers markets, which are a matter for each state or territory.
Both At Work And Off
No worker should ever seen as non-essential in reality. However, because of the way that restrictions were apply broadly, workers in certain industries may find themselves without a job while others remain fully employed. Let’s take, for instance, chefs. Chefs in restaurants and licensed clubs are now being banned. However, hotel chefs can still cook and offer room service. Baristas in cafes can still make a living, provided they only serve take-away coffee. However, a barista working within a licensed club is not allowed to work.
Additional Restrictions And Essentials
We have seen many businesses close and many retailers close their doors. However, many people are waiting to hear more announcements about the possibility of closing all non essentials services. What are the factors that should be considered by government before deciding which items are essentials? Some decisions are simple: we need police, fire fighters, health workers and other emergency service workers. We also need those who provide services to the public like food supply, clean drinking water, sewerage, and so forth.
We also need the services that keep them functioning. This is known as the tooth to tail ratio, which refers to the number of people needed to keep any soldier on a battlefield (estimated at three per soldier). This includes civilians who are responsible for providing consumables, personal protective equipment, fuel, computer systems and those who look after their families as they do the heavy lifting.