Clarifying essential vs. non-essential businesses under governor's executive order

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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY (WJRT) (03/24/2020) - The streets of downtown Durand are practically empty with just a few establishments open.

It's an eerily similar situation in many cities across the U.S. and world right now.

"I'm concerned with the public and employees but we have to do what we have to do," said Mark Pancheck, owner of Shaw's Pharmacy in Durand.

His business is considered essential under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home Stay Safe" executive order.

"People need their medications, so we're open and we're doing what we can," Pancheck said.

But there has been some confusion over what's considered essential and non-essential, particularly in Shiawassee County.

Essential, meaning places like hospitals, grocery stores and pharmacies are open. Non-essential, meaning places like car dealerships, salons, and tanning booths are closed.

"They're basically self-selecting. If they feel like they're on that list, they want to stay open, they choose to stay open," said Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership.

The same goes for non-essential businesses choosing to not stay open. But it's not that cut and dry.

"There are some companies that have letters from vendors and suppliers that are giving them basically documentation that allows them to stay open," he said.

Horvath said in the coming days, the state will be taking a closer look at businesses that are choosing to stay open and assessing whether or not they and their employees are essential.