What’s ‘essential’ and what’s not? Official order lays it out


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We’ve been flooded with requests to know what, exactly, is considered essential — and what is not. Gov. Brad Little ordered all Idahoans to stay home for the next 21 days, with some exceptions.

The full order was issued shortly after 6pm Wednesday. It details a full list of what is allowed, and mirrors a list BoiseDev compiled earlier today based upon Blaine Co. guidance.

[Little issues statewide ‘stay at home order, extreme emergency declaration: “Avoid leaving home if you can”]

[Boise’s Mclean supports Little’s order, talks about what’s next for the city and its residents]


  • Indoor gyms
  • Recreational facilities
  • Nightclubs
  • Bars
  • Entertainment venues
  • Convention centers
  • Hair & nail salons
  • Events
  • Public gatherings
  • Dine-in portion of restaurants
  • “Other facilities and services not including in the essential businesses as defined in the order.”

Essential businesses

Read the full order


  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Dentists
  • Healthcare providers
  • Pharmacies
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
  • Mental health providers
  • Ancillary healthcare services
  • Nursing homes, or residential healthcare facilities for seniors, adults and children
  • Home-based care for seniors, adults, or children
  • Veterinary services


  • Public works construction
  • Commercial construction
  • Construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing
  • Airport operations
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire departments
  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Gas
  • Electrical
  • Oil refining
  • Mining
  • Roads and highways
  • Public transportation
  • Solid waste collection and removal
  • Transfer and sale of real estate
  • Internet, and telecommunications systems (including the provision of essential global, national,
    and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications,
    telecommunications relay service, and web-based services)

Services and businesses

  • Childcare programs and services
  • Essential government services including services and programs offered by the Department of
    Health and Welfare
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for
    economically disadvantaged or other needy individuals
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Exterminators
  • Landscapers
  • Grocery stores
  • Certified farmers’ markets
  • Farm and produce stands
  • Supermarkets
  • Food banks
  • Convenience stores
  • Gas stations
  • Auto supply stores
  • Auto repair and related facilities
  • Laundromats
  • Dry cleaners
  • Laundry service providers
  • Hardware stores
  • Hotels for purpose of isolation/quarantine or for those providing essential services
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Food cultivation including farming, livestock, and fishing
  • Firearm businesses
  • Other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and
    vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, liquor, beer, and wine and any other
    household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes
    stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to
    maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.

News media

Education services

Financial services

  • Banks
  • Credit Unions
  • Insurance
  • Services related to financial markets
  • Services related to financial markets

Transportation services

  • Airlines
  • Taxis and other private transportation providers
  • Transportation providers supporting essential activities
  • Public transportation for essential services

Food services

  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out.
  • Schools and other entities that typically provide free food services to students or members of
    the public may continue to do so on the condition that the food is provided to students or
    members of the public on a pick-up and takeaway basis only. (Schools and other entities that
    provide food services under this exemption shall not permit the food to be eaten at the site
    where it is provided, or at any other gathering site.)

Other essential services

  • Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in
    compliance with legally mandated activities
  • Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home
  • Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences
  • Essential tribal operations
  • Essential operations at or related to INL or needed to support or provide supplies to INL

Essential activities

  • Activities that are “essential to their health and safety,” including picking up medical supplies or medicine, visiting a doctor, or obtaining items needed to work from home.
  • To obtain necessary supplies, such as groceries, cleaning supplies, or pet food.
  • Outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, bicycling, or running.
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.

Essential travel

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential government functions, or essential businesses.
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Going to or from educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning, receive meals, or any other related services.
  • Travel to return to your home from outside the county.
  • Any travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their homes.
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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