March 19, 2020 / 10:44 PM / 21 days ago

Retail trade body urges U.S. government to define an 'essential' retailer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Retail Federation (NRF) urged President Donald Trump on Thursday to come up with national guidance for state and local governments on what constitutes an “essential” retail business as they combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The request followed a Reuters report on Wednesday that highlighted the confusion among retailers on who can stay open and where, depending on what government officials deem to be essential. reut.rs/2QuBXKx

“Unfortunately, there remains a need for clear national guidance to resolve questions caused by a number of conflicting state and local orders that are triggering consumer, worker and business confusion, leading to cascading negative impacts on communities across the country,” the NRF said in a letter to Trump.

The letter said some localities had deemed pet stores as non-essential and overlooked the role played by distribution centers and transportation hubs, while others had decided to shut down state and highway rest areas, creating roadblocks for the industry to operate.

The letter proposed the administration deem pet stores, home improvement stores, auto repair and supply outlets, transportation and delivery services along with warehouses among others as “essential” businesses.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney

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