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What's an 'essential' business under the extended Idaho stay-home order? Gov. Little lifts some restrictions, allows certain businesses to reopen

After extending Idaho's stay-at-home order through the end of April, Gov. Little has made adjustments to what will now be considered an essential business.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced on Wednesday morning that the state will be extending the stay-at-home order issued on March 25 to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Originally planned to end on April 15, the stay-at-home order will now be in effect until April 30. You can find more information about the new regulations here.

The extended order still makes exceptions for leaving home to obtain essential services, and for those working in public health, safety and "other essential workers as defined in the order."

Idahoans are still required to limit discretionary travel and all non-essential gatherings outside of the household under the order. In addition, people traveling to Idaho from out of state are now required to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Although much of the stay-at-home order has remained consistent, Gov. Little has added new businesses to those considered essential.

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Here's a breakdown of what it means in terms of "essential" and "non-essential" businesses following the extension of the stay-at-home order:

Essential/will remain open

  • Any facility/service that can operate via drive-through pickup, drive-in, curbside or delivery.
  • Grocery stores
  • Medical facilities
  • Veterinary services
  • Residential and home-based care
  • Pharmacies
  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations
  • Laundromats
  • Financial institutions (including banks, credit unions and insurance companies)
  • Essential state and local government functions
  • Limited child care for essential workers
  • Contractors
  • Infrastructure
  • Public safety (including emergency responders)
  • Hotels/motels
  • Maintenance (including electricians, plumbers, utility services and mechanics)
  • Media

MORE: Idaho governor issues statewide stay-at-home order, signs 'extreme emergency declaration'

Non-essential/will close:

  • Bars
  • Nightclubs
  • Indoor Gyms
  • Salons and spas
  • Recreation facilities
  • Entertainment venues
  • Convention centers
  • Restaurants (dine-in services only will be shut down)
  • Public events and gatherings

All restaurants in Idaho are ordered to close their dine-in facilities, but drive-up, take-out and delivery services are permitted.

Scroll down to read the full order and a Q&A with Gov. Little from March 25.

Idaho State Liquor Division stores will remain open, with normal hours in effect. Some stores may be closed due to staffing shortages caused by child care issues, concern about elderly family members at home, or illness affecting Division employees. No stores have had instances of COVID-19.

Public transit is allowed to continue under the order, but the governor said people must limit their public transit unless to provide or obtain essential services.

Residents are still allowed to recreate near their home, including walking dogs, going for a walk or run, hiking, or riding a bicycle as long as they maintain six feet of distance from anyone who is not a member of their household.

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Many businesses in Idaho had already closed or limited their operations before the governor announced Wednesday's order.

On Thursday, Gov. Little sat down for a Q&A session with Brian Holmes at KTVB to answer questions from our viewers. Many of the questions focused on what businesses and services are considered essential. Read the transcript below (note: it has been edited for length and clarity). Video of the Q&A is in the main video player at the top of this story.

Holmes: What are your people telling you about the spread or potential danger of this virus?

Little: Well, the graph in most of my press conferences I've had, the two graphs of how this can happen, which is actually a model that goes back to 1850s, which makes you wonder about it, but it's basically a standard for a pandemic. And there's two ways it can happen - it can happen like it did in Italy or it can happen like probably Taiwan, is maybe the best example.

Our whole goal from an epidemiology standpoint is to slow the spread so we don't overrun our healthcare capacity. And that's the case in the Wood River Valley right now with the hospital mostly shut down.

Holmes: Models show [coronavirus cases] double every 1.7 days to 2 or 3 days, we're going to see numbers double. Is that what you're hearing? 

Little: And our numbers are going to go up, we anticipate. That's why our order yesterday was for 21 days. I know I'm going to get partway through this and everybody is going to be screaming that our numbers are still going up. Well, those are people that were exposed yesterday before we really increased our awareness and social distancing.

Holmes: You said yesterday we've entered the next stage when it comes to fighting this. Was it that community spread confirmation in Ada County that caused you to issue the statewide stay at home order?

Little: Community spread in Ada County, indications that there's an increase in Kootenai County, and of course the Magic Valley, because of Blaine County and we don't know exactly what is happening in Twin Falls because a lot of those Blaine County people go in and out of Twin. If it had just been in one area like it was originally in Blaine County, that was the science we were basing on, but the fact now that it's statewide led to me taking the advice of my epidemiologists.

Holmes: What do you say to people who said you should have done this earlier? 

Little: We followed the science, we followed the CDC guidelines. When you get to a certain point where you have community spread, you implement [stay-at-home orders]. We were already using the recommendations from CDC and the White House about everybody taking that 15 day issue, and... there were places, particularly outside of Boise where that mixing was going on and we were seeing spread. And that's why we did it, we're just following the science.

Holmes: Your order yesterday mentioned, got into the essential versus non-essential jobs. We got a lot of questions, as I'm sure you did, what about liquor stores, what about those kinds of things? And is there an easy answer? What about places like pawn shops? 

Little: They were talking about that last night and I'm not sure, I know hardware stores are open.

Holmes: Right, because you need to fix stuff. Gun shops, are they essential?

Little: Those are protected by state law even before this.

Holmes: Liquor stores, you kind of touched on and tobacco stores, what about them?

Little: I don't know about tobacco stores, grocery stores [are open], but solely tobacco, I have no idea.

Holmes: OK, golf courses, are they essential?

Little: Well, the outdoor part [is okay] but the indoor part would not be, I think.

Holmes: Contruction jobs? 

Little: I think most construction jobs are protected.

Holmes: CBD stores?

Little: I don't know.

Holmes: Dental offices?

Little: They are medical, yes.

Holmes: Movers?

Little: I don't know.

Holmes: Housecleaners?

Little: I don't think so.

Holmes: Massage therapists?

Little: I think a chiropractor, probably if it's therapeutic, they'd have to be protected.

Holmes: [There are] almost three full pages of exempt jobs. What is the point of a stay-at-home order if all are exempt?

Little: People have to get their groceries, people have to have their car fixed if they can't go to get groceries. You know, this is not going to be perfect. But we have a big advantage in Idaho over [other places] because we have so little mass transit. The fact that everybody has an isolation by their own, it's those social settings where there's big crowds that we're trying to eliminate. The models, all the models we use, is there's going to be a certain percent of the population that gets sick at some time, but what you don't want is that spike and this is the goal to reduce that spike.

Holmes: How's this been for you, second year as governor, and you have to deal with an invasive pandemic?

Little: I was talking to one of my fellow governors the other day and something about signing up for this, well, we actually did. You know, you're the commander in chief, you're the one person that can declare an extreme emergency like I did yesterday.

I can't tell you how appreciative I am of my epidemiologists, and my healthcare people, and [the] Health and Welfare [department], and my staff. Any time you go to war you want to have a good team behind you and we've got a great team.

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