NC lets more than 3,000 businesses reopen after appeal to be considered essential

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Officially, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines essential as "of utmost importance," but after that there's no designation on who determines what's so important and to whom.

Such is the balancing act of state and county governments across the country, including Wake County and North Carolina, to classify what is an essential business.

"How can you leave out the main thing which is your hair and your face," Alicia Wall, a hairdresser in Raleigh, said. "We're the doctor of hair; we're the psychiatrist. When people come, that's there relaxing moment, from work, from their husband, from their children. It's a total package that we serve."

Here's a list of essential businesses from the North Carolina Dept. of Revenue

RELATED: What counts as 'essential business' in North Carolina amid COVID-19 stay-at-home order

Wall's salon, Glam Lyfee Studios, is among the tens of thousands of businesses excluded from Governor Roy Cooper's Executive Order 121, which enacted the Stay-At-Home order on March 27 and has since been extended to May 8th. Salons and barbershops are considered non-essential because they are cosmetic and cannot adhere to social distancing practices.

Wall says she is now depending on income from her husband, a corrections officer.

"What goes through my mind is it's just unfair," Wall said. "Just like the body, our hair, if it's not taken care of, it gets damaged."

There are options for some frustrated owners, including petitioning the NC Department of Revenue to grant requests "if it determines that it is in the best interest of the State to have businesses continue operations in order to properly respond to this COVID-19 pandemic."

Statewide, 4,544 businesses asked to be considered essential as of April 16; an I-Team analysis found 83 percent were granted approval, including but not limited to cleaning, maintenance and construction. Other businesses allowed include pet groomers, florists, furniture stores, vehicle repair shops and gun stores.

Tobacco and vape shops, meanwhile, were generally denied, as were gyms and salons among others.

RELATED: $1M in grant money created for Raleigh small businesses dealing with COVID-19 revenue loss

Nathaniel Geinger, owner and operator or BlackOps Paintball, was told he could open his course in Fayetteville but only if the business could maintain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing.

"I noticed golf courses were still open," Geinger told ABC11 about why he decided to submit a request to the DOR. "I think for business people even a 5 or 10 percent, when there was nothing before, is positive and a good sign. That's what we're looking for is a silver lining that this is coming to an end."

Geinger, interestingly, owns and operates other courses in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Lacey, Wash. That means his three businesses are subject to three different sets of rules during the COVID19 pandemic, as South Carolina has lifted some restrictions while Washington has kept its strict lockdown.

"In the military I tried not to second guess our commanders and I don't envy (North Carolina) Governor (Roy) Cooper or (South Carolina) Governor (Henry) McMaster" Geinger, an Iraq war veteran, said. "I think we can see the intent pretty much everywhere is to minimize damage both fiscally and health wise. I think sometimes we need to stay positive and give people the benefit of the doubt."
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