Living under lockdown restrictions, prevalent in nearly every state, is about to get a whole lot worse. The government in the United States and Canada has decided to take away the guesswork in the stores that are still open and decide for you what’s “essential” and what’s not.
When I have gone to the store to pick up groceries (I’m still getting fresh produce while I can), I also like to pick up a couple of things that are pleasant diversions: magazines, a crossword puzzle book, coloring pencils, some craft supplies. It’s nice to have some things that are enjoyable on hand to keep lockdown from feeling so grim and torturous. If the store is already open, getting a sunny yellow pillow for the living room is a pick-me-up, not a frivolous jaunt to a place I wasn’t already going. When we had a birthday in the family, we even picked up a few small gifts on our regular trip to the grocery store to provide a sense of normalcy.
But the days of getting a random item to brighten a family member’s day may be numbered. The government (at least in some places) wants to make this already unpleasant time as dismal as possible for us all.
Vermont has started a worrisome trend.
Vermont has decided to choose for you what is essential and what is not, banning the sale of non-essential items at stores like Target, Walmart, and Costco.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) is directing large “big box” retailers, such as Walmart, Target and Costco, with in-store sales of food, beverage and pharmacy, as well as electronics, toys, clothing, and the like to cease in-person sales of non-essential items in order to reduce the number of people coming into the stores.
“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system. We are directing these stores to put public health first and help us reduce the number of shoppers by requiring on-line ordering, delivery and curbside pickup whenever possible, and by stopping the sale of non-essential items.” (source)
Retailers are asked to close certain areas of the stores, rope them off to deny access, or pull non-essentials from their shelves.