Idaho Public Television

A screen grab of Idaho Reports on Idaho Public Television, featuring reporter Melissa Davlin, Gov. Brad Little, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppesen, and state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

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BOISE — Gov. Brad Little spent a majority of Thursday’s special Q&A episode of Idaho Reports clarifying which businesses were considered essential — and why not.

Idaho Reports host Melissa Davlin said the show received hundreds of questions asking for further explanation on what constitutes an essential businesses after Little issued a stay-home order Wednesday, which requires all residents “to self-isolate at home if you can, not just if you are sick” until April 15. People are still able to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and outside for exercise.

Essential businesses — such as health care workers, public safety and other essential personnel, including newspapers — are allowed to provide services while the order is in effect. Businesses excluded from this distinction were forced to close and asked to allow to let their staff work from home if possible.

In Thursday’s episode, which also featured Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppesen and state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn, Little was asked about car dealerships, churches, construction, dog grooming, dental, vaping and eye care businesses.

Little said the list of essential businesses was carefully considered, and will be reevaluated at the end of the 21-day period. He added on Friday, there will be a phone number listed on the state’s coronavirus website for people who are still confused about what is considered essential to ask additional questions. If something isn’t on the already identified list, Little said he and his staff will discuss it and then  make a determination.

“You have to use good judgement and common sense,” Little said. “We’re only doing this now for 20 days.”

Both the order and list of essential businesses currently are on the website. 

Davlin said many Idahoans also were concerned about whether there were too many exemptions.

“What’s the point of a stay-home order when there are so many services that are considered essential or that can come under that umbrella?” Davlin asked.

Little said the intent of the order was to stop the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, which as of Thursday, there were more than 185 people testing positive, resulting in three deaths.

“This is not perfect, and I’m not for one minute going to say it is,” he said. “We’re trying to slow the rate to where our healthcare system capacity matches up.”

Olivia Heersink is the Canyon County public safety reporter. You can reach her at oheersink@idahopress.com, or by calling 208-465-8178. Follow her on Twitter @heersinkolivia.

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