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Chamber calls on Trump to designate 'essential businesses and services' during crisis

Chamber calls on Trump to designate 'essential businesses and services' during crisis
© Greg Nash

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue offered guidance to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE on Wednesday, recommending the government designate “essential businesses and services” during the coronavirus outbreak.

While states are calling for quarantine orders and business closures, businesses and services that support the infrastructure needed to combat the coronavirus must not be harmed, Donohue wrote in a letter to Trump. 

“We recommend that your administration issue guidance on these orders to clarify ‘essential infrastructure’ and ‘essential businesses and services,’” Donohue wrote. “Several counties have promulgated mandatory quarantines that include specific exceptions for ‘essential infrastructure’ and ‘essential business’ that our members find strike the right balance and we recommend these examples as a model for any state or local government issuing similar directives.”

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“Essential businesses and services” should include health care operations, grocery stores, delivery services, facilities supporting interstate delivery of goods, including truck and rest stops, hardware stores, banks, gas stations, laundromats, media services, plumbers, taxis, and home-based care, among other areas, according to Donahue.

He added that restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, if operating under rules for social distancing, should be included, in addition to educational institutions — such as public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities — for purposes of facilitating distance learning, if operating under rules for social distancing.

Donohue said “essential infrastructure” should include public works construction, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, nuclear, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems, among other areas.

Additionally, it should include the construction of housing, especially affordable housing or housing for homeless individuals.

“We also ask that you remain open to adding more items to the specified ‘essential businesses and services’ and ‘essential infrastructure,’ as conditions continue to change,” Donohue wrote.

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The letter comes as multiple industries are seeking relief because of quarantines and closures due to the coronavirus.

The National Retail Federation asked for a direct, government-based loan program. The National Restaurant Association called for financial relief, loans and tax measures to help it combat the crisis.

The airline industry this week, through Airlines for America, requested $50 billion in the form of grants, loans and tax relief to weather the coronavirus downturn. And the tourism industry, through the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has called for $150 billion in overall relief.

The White House is seeking a roughly $850 billion economic stimulus package from Congress to address the coronavirus's economic impact.