Shifting Gears: What travel is essential? What's not?

NYC subway coronavirus mask

Happy Friday and welcome to yet another coronavirus edition of Shifting Gears, Business Insider's weekly roundup of all things transportation.

Travel is, of course, still insanely snarled. As we discussed last week, the wane in demand has brought entire industries to their knees. Many, like airlines, are now praying for government relief.

My colleague Tom Pallini is keeping track of schedule cuts, airline furloughs, bankruptcies, and more here.

But not everything has been cut. Why hasn't domestic air travel been completely banned? After all, land borders have been shut to all nonessential travel and Americans abroad have been urged to come back to the US.

It comes down to "freedom," one analyst told CNBC this week, but it also comes down to necessity. The words essential and nonessential have been thrown around like crazy this week, and there's finally some clarity coming out about what jobs are in which bucket.

Public transit is still running in most cities to provide a means for medical workers, retail clerks, and more to get to their jobs.

The global car-manufacturing business has come to a collective pause. Matt DeBord was all over the latest plant suspensions at General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and other industry giants this week, and provided some analysis about how the industry landscape may look when factories reopen.

And then there's the movement of goods.

Truckers are essential - I can't think of anyone who would argue otherwise. But they're facing a unique set of problems as they try to keep stores stocked with food, cleaning supplies and … toilet paper.

For one, some rest stops are closing, leaving truckers scrambling for places to eat, sleep, and even use the restroom. And even as gas prices slump thanks to a glut of fresh oil that sent prices to record lows, new data shows outlook for the $800 million trucking industry is at an all-time low.

My colleague Rachel Premack has more about the plight of truckers amid a global crisis, including an unprecedented move by the Trump administration to suspend a decades-old safety law to keep goods moving.

Before I leave you for a weekend at home, I'd be remiss not to include some less-than-terrifying stories for your quarantine pleasure. But I also have a favor to ask: please send me your fun weekend reads in return.

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