There are usually exceptions to every rule. Currently, the rules regarding what is considered an “essential business” in the age of coronavirus are in flux. Major League Baseball (MLB), professional wrestling (WWE), and churches are three businesses that might like to be deemed “essential,” aka along the lines of food, medical supplies, gasoline and building supplies.
Play Ball! Or Not…
The MLB would like to start spring training. And even have a season. The question is: where?
There are a couple of plans floated for the MLB to get back to work. The one that’s currently most probable, according to Yardbarker, is to have teams all travel to Arizona for four weeks of spring training.
But this “plan” might not be okay for all players; some have balked at leaving their families and being isolated. “However, a lot of unmarried players like the idea of playing in Arizona, especially because they just want the season to begin,” Yardbarker wrote.
According to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, plans haven’t been finalized.
“The only real decision that we have made, the only real plan that we have is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation has improved to the point that we’re comfortable, that we can play games in a manner that’s safe for our players, our employees, our fans, and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely,” Manfred told CNN Sports.
Spring training couldn’t begin in either Arizona or Florida until gatherings of upwards of 100 people are permitted. And live audiences in stadiums is a non-starter for the foreseeable future.
Pro-Wrestling is a Coronavirus Essential Business, At Least in Florida
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is already back in production in Florida, albeit without live audiences. According to NPR, the WWE received a signed order on April 9 from Florida’s Emergency Management Director. The order says “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience” are exempt from a stay-at-home order as long as “the location is closed to the general public.”
This is after WWE production was shut down when an on-air staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement to NPR, WWE said, “We believe this matter is low risk to WWE talent and staff, as the individual and a roommate became symptomatic in the days following exposure to two people working in acute health care on the evening of March 26, after WWE’s TV production on a closed set was already complete.”
WWE says the employee has had no contact with anyone with the organization since then and has since recovered.
Churches Sue in California for Right To Have In House Services
Technically, churches are not businesses, as they are classified as tax-exempt. But that hasn’t prevented three California pastors from suing Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a number of Riverside and San Bernardino county officials, over the right to be classified “essential” and open to the public.
Live church services have proven to be an excellent way to transmit COVID-19. In Sacramento County, 71 people connected to a single church were later infected with the coronavirus in one of the largest outbreak clusters in the country.
One Virginia archbishop, who preached ‘God is larger than this dreaded virus,’ tragically passed away from COVID-19.
And in Florida (where wrestling reigns essential), pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested March 30 for defying public service restrictions. At a church service on March 15, Howard-Browne said he would not close his church’s doors until the Rapture, when believers will be lifted up to heaven. At the same service, the pastor said he won’t close his bible school either, “because we are raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
Howard-Browne’s actions were described as a “reckless disregard for human life” by Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
Luckily, most churchgoers are more likely to abide by the shelter in place demands in their communities. “Generally speaking, I think the physical distancing message has finally gotten out,” Robert Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute told US News and World Report. “While there are a few rogue pastors out there, the vast majority of religious leaders, and their congregants, seem to be avoiding large gatherings. And that’s good news for everyone.”