Who are Vermont's 'essential' workers?

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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Vermont's governor ordered all "nonessential" businesses to close up shop and send their workers home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. So, who are those essential workers and businesses? Our Darren Perron takes a closer look.

The list is long.

The obvious ones are people like medical workers, researchers, police, EMTs and others deemed critical to public health and safety.

But there are places people regularly visit allowed to stay open, too, like grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies.

"The best thing we can do for our business community is to get through this crisis quickly," Vt. Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said.

Also on the list-- some manufacturing companies, people who maintain critical infrastructure and transportation, and the news media.

Restaurants and hardware stores can still take online or phone orders and do takeout curbside and make deliveries.

"These are difficult steps to take but we believe these measures will slow the spread, flatten the curve and save lives and, ultimately, allow Vermonters to get back to work faster," Kurrle said.

Trash collection continues. Farming continues. Banks can stay open, but only at ATMs and drive-thrus.

Reporter Darren Perron: Who determines which workers are essential?

Legal Expert Jared Carter: I think that's a fair question and there's bound to be some gray area there. And there's bound to be some dispute there.

Carter says the Scott administration needs to be clear in its order to avoid court challenges.

"There's always under our system of checks and balances judicial review," Carter said.

He says someone could ask a court to interpret the executive order but fighting it would be difficult unless the government regulation is oppressive or unreasonable.

"The courts in a public health emergency are going to defer to the administration and defer to the authorities when it comes to enforcing these sorts of things," Carter explained.