Here's the difference between an essential business and a nonessential business as states and cities announce coronavirus-related closures

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Here's the difference between an essential business and a nonessential business as states and cities announce coronavirus-related closures

Empty street is seen in Manhattan borough following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Reuters

An empty street in Manhattan during the coronavirus outbreak.

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  • Cities and states across the US are ordering the closure of "nonessential businesses" in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The exact definition of "essential" varies by locale, but "nonessential" applies to most recreational businesses.
  • Here's a complete breakdown of which businesses are considered "essential" and which are considered "nonessential."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Cities and states across the US have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses.

So far, San Francisco and Philadelphia have ordered sweeping closures of nonessential businesses, and the states of Washington, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut have also shuttered many nonessential businesses and ordered bars and restaurants to become takeout- or delivery-only operations.

But which businesses are considered "essential" and which are considered "nonessential"?

Technically, it's up to cities and states to decide, but there are some businesses that are universally considered to be essential. These include:

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  • Supermarkets and grocery stores
  • Big-box stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Convenience stores and discount stores
  • Garbage collection
  • Healthcare operations
  • Daycare centers
  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations and auto repair shops
  • Banks
  • Post offices and shipping businesses
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Veterinary clinics and pet stores

The City of San Francisco also includes the following as "essential businesses":

  • Farmers' markets and food banks
  • Businesses that provide necessities to shelters and economically disadvantaged individuals
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning

The State of Pennsylvania also considers these businesses "essential":

  • Food processing
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Feed mills
  • Construction
  • Hotels and commercial lodging
  • Warehousing, storage, and distribution

As cities and states continue to shut down their nonessential businesses, what is considered "essential" will likely vary based on the needs of each locale. However, businesses that people rely on in everyday life will largely remain open.

nonessential businesses are generally recreational in nature. They don't provide groceries, health or financial support, or utilities. Restaurants fall in this category, but most locales have allowed restaurants to continue to operate as long as they close dining rooms and switch to exclusively take-out and delivery.

These are the businesses largely agreed to be "nonessential":

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  • Restaurants and bars
  • Theaters
  • Gyms and recreation centers
  • Salons and spas
  • Museums
  • Casinos and racetracks
  • Shopping malls
  • Bowling alleys
  • Sporting and concert venues
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