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Not everyone should have essential worker status

Many fast-food restaurant, liquor store, and dispensary workers should not be considered essential.
Illustration: Amber Malom • The Sentry

It defeats the purpose of a stay-at-home order

Now that the epicenter of the Coronavirus is the United States, day-to-day life has changed drastically for the average American. That being said, Colorado has attempted multiple measures to flatten the curve of infection; the most drastic of the measures being the statewide stay-at-home order.

This order makes almost all outings besides going to the grocery store, getting medicine, or seeking medical help prohibited. Those whose jobs are non-essential are no longer allowed to work outside of home—this is where it gets complicated. People throughout the state are now carrying papers with them, papers that are labeling them as “essential workers”, as though it is implying that they couldn’t possibly be sick and infecting those around them.

Where the problem begins is where the lines are being drawn that declare essential versus non-essential jobs. Liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries, for example, are considered essential by the state. Alcohol and marijuana are recreational for most people, yet it’s considered worth risking the lives of those around to maintain the availability of these select goods. In addition to these recreational hubs, places such as fast food joints are still business as usual. Though you can no longer eat in the dining areas of these places, the drive throughs are still busy as ever, and their employees are facing hundreds of people face-to-face every day. The employees are at risk by keeping these frankly non-essential places open, who in turn risk their families. This crisis is still exponential in risk.

The problem isn’t with people getting their fix, rather the problem is the rate at which people are getting infected with Coronavirus in Colorado, and the lack of respect for the order created in hopes of preventing it’s spread. This goes for a plethora of other businesses in the state that are choosing to go on with business as usual. If America can’t shut down places of business that are non-essential, Americans can kiss up to 20% of their parents and grandparents good-bye.

These are scary times, and an increasingly scary economy. As Americans, the unemployment rate is increasing at a higher rate now than at any point during the Great Depression. However, Americans are facing an unprecedented disease in their lives, which disrupts their global-economy and puts everyone in a position to choose human lives over monetary prosperity. It’s no one’s right to tell someone at risk of succumbing to COVID-19 that their stocks are more important than their lives. Luckily, there is a stimulus package to try to help mitigate the financial strain many Americans undoubtedly feel.

Business as usual for companies that lie their way into compliance with the order are simply irresponsible. It is the state’s duty to recognize these dubious businesses and force them to shut down before Colorado is setting up make-shift morgues like New York is today. Be responsible and stay home.

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