The coronavirus pandemic has led to widespread business closures across the nation but some are still open because of their status as “essential” services in city, county, and statewide declarations.
There are some other stores and businesses throughout Collin County that are still open even though you might not think of them as “essential” during a nationwide pandemic. That’s because there’s really no set definition on what’s considered “essential” and “nonessential” in a time of crisis and the determination can vary from state to state, county to county and even city to city.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a set of guidelines for determining which entities or services are critically needed to maintain communities’ infrastructure, but they are not legally binding. The final decision is still left to individual cities and counties. This can lead to legal complications like the city of McKinney’s short legal entanglement with a local realtor and Collin County Judge Chris Hill’s initial decision and subsequent backlash to labeling all workers as essential.
We’ve looked through Collin County’s and several cities’ emergency declarations and ordinances and found some businesses are considered essential in a state of emergency for wildly varying reasons.
1). Gun stores
If you want to get a gun during this statewide sheltering order, there’s nothing stopping you beyond the few remaining restrictions that were in place before the disaster declaration. Some cities such as Frisco list licensed firearm dealers under “security related services” as “essential critical infrastructure,” according to a local disaster declaration signed by Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney on March 27.
Even recreational shooting ranges are still open like the Frisco Gun Club, thanks in part to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion regarding the sale of firearms during this pandemic. In fact, the demand for firearms has only increased during the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the Gun Club’s Facebook page, “demand has skyrocketed in the past few weeks. It might be several weeks before we have this much available inventory.”
2.) Bicycle repair
One of the key areas in every city’s declaration cover transportation, which is where bicycle repair stores and services are allowed to still operate. The City of McKinney’s disaster declaration lists bicycle repair next to “gas station, auto-supply, auto…and essential business equipment suppliers.”
Naturally, this provision allows business to use bike couriers and restaurants to continue to deliver meals for employees who use bicycles to get around. It also lets residents go for a ride in some parks, provided you obey the six feet social distancing requirement. The City of Plano has implemented “friendly monitors” to remind park visitors to keep their distance.
3. Fishing and outdoor stores
Even though cities, counties and states are encouraging people to stay indoors as much as possible, that doesn’t mean stores who sell goods that encourage people to go outside are being closed. Several cities’ declarations specifically mention fishing business related to “food cultivation” as “essential retail” alongside farming and livestock.
For instance, Cabela’s in The Village at Allen’s is still open to the public and has instituted a “special senior hour” one hour before opening to address the needs of “the health and safety of all customers and team members,” according to the store’s Facebook page.
4. RV Sales
Just about every business that deals with crowds of people on a daily basis have had to alter its operations in order to maintain a safe distance between its employees and customers. Recreational vehicle sales businesses are still allowed to do business since they help with housing issues. The City of Frisco lists RV sales and services for housing concerns until “essential services necessary to maintain essential operations of residents of other essential businesses,” according to its ordinance.
5. Car dealerships
Car dealerships can also continue to do business but not the way they usually do. Frisco’s declaration prevents dealerships from opening their showrooms to the public in order to reduce unnecessary crowding or person to person interactions. However, they can conduct “online sales” and make “appointments for necessary paperwork…while practicing social distancing” and “virtual test drives” of vehicles.