Struggling with the word essential

May 14, 2020

Essential. I've been struggling with that word over the past few weeks. Most of us have.

What makes one business more essential than another?

I have a hard time understanding how a store that happens to sell groceries and has a pharmacy is also allowed to sell every other item in the store, including clothes, sporting goods, toys, etc. In all economic fairness, shouldn't those stores be forced to sell only essential items? Shouldn't other areas in the stores be off limits to the public?

Nearly every retail store has been forced to close down. It's mind boggling to me that every store in Tanger Outlets is closed.

I can't imagine how much money is being lost and how many employees are facing economic tough times.

As of last week, more retail shops can “open,” but only offer curbside service. You can see the problems with that. We are browsers – that's why it's called shopping.

I really feel for restaurants, but at least they have the option to offer carryout and delivery, which does cover the bills for most restaurants or put many people to work.

So why are liquor stores considered essential?

According to health officials, closing liquor stores could put undue stress on hospital emergency rooms. Why? They claim people with serious drinking problems would go through withdrawal, which could lead to a trip to the ER and possible hospitalization. That would tax healthcare workers and could take potential beds needed by COVID-19 patients.

I like what Maryland officials are allowing as the state moves to Phase 1 of its reopening plan by allowing retail shops to open at 50 percent capacity.

Unless Gov. John Carney takes action earlier, that could not open until at least June 1 in Delaware.

I think retail shop owners can be trusted to follow the rules and not put their staff or customers in harms way. Grocery stores, Walmart, Lowe's and Home Depot have been given that opportunity and not at 50 percent either.


  • Ron MacArthur has lived and worked in Sussex County all his life. As a journalist for more than 40 years, he has covered everything from county and town meetings to presidential visits. He also has a unique perspective having served as an elected official and lived on both sides of the county.

    Contact Ron at

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