‘Essential businesses’ exempt from stay-at-home order include laundromats cleaning scrubs, lab coats

Hoosiers told to stay home, with some essential exceptions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “Essential workers” exempt from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order are contributing in unexpected ways to Indiana’s fight to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The executive order announced Monday goes into effect Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. and ends at the same time Monday, April 6.

Hoosiers are permitted to leave their homes for “essential activities,” including medical appointments, caring for relatives and friends, grocery shopping and outdoor recreation that complies with social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

First responders, law enforcement, emergency dispatchers, legislators, judges, corrections officers, welfare workers, housing and shelter providers, military personnel and other government employees are categorically exempt from the stay-at-home order.

The 10-page directive also lists more than 20 categories of “essential businesses and operations” permitted to stay open:

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  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Food, beverage and agriculture
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Religious entities that comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial and insurance institutions
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades, including plumbers, exterminators, electricians, engineers and janitorial staff
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services
  • Educational institutions facilitating distance learning, critical research or other essential functions
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for off-premise consumption
  • Supplies to work from home
  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services
  • Manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries
  • Critical labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services

Dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, vape and tobacco shops, hair and nail salons, fitness centers, bowling alleys and retail shops selling non-essential products are slated to close until April 7.

Sheila Wolfe, the owner of an Indianapolis laundry and dry cleaning business, wasn’t certain her job would be deemed “essential” before the order was issued.

She and her family opened Fashion Cleaners, located at 9429 North Meridian Street, in 1990. 

The business, which remains family-operated, is their primary source of income.

“We just didn’t really know,” Wolfe told News 8. “I can see the argument for [defining laundromats as “essential”] but I can see the argument against, as well. I was very thankful that we were going to get to stay open.”

In addition to north side business professionals and fashion-minded clientele, Fashion Cleaners serves medical workers on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regular customers include physicians and medical technicians who drop off uniforms requiring professional cleaning.

“Doctors that come here have to wear lab coats,” Wolfe said. “So we do a significant number of lab coats. I’m thrilled that we can serve them.”

Other types of clients had slowed to a trickle since the virus gripped Indiana but Wolfe refused to lay off her staff.

She began bringing her own clothes to Fashion Cleaners so the woman employed as her laundry presser could maintain her working hours.

Longtime clients perturbed by the unprecedented slowdown also generated additional revenue while still able to leave their homes.

“They’re going through their closets, pulling everything they can, bringing in household items [and saying], ‘Hey, I need this bedspread cleaned,’ even though they really don’t,” Wolfe said. “You know, just doing kind things to support local businesses. It really has touched me.”

She shared a touching, personal reason she was grateful her business could continue operating under the governor’s stay-at-home order.

It gives her youngest son, Cory, the opportunity to maintain some semblance of his daily routine.

“Cory’s on the [autism] spectrum and [working here] has been his vocational training program,” Wolfe said. “It’s a blessing that we can stay open and his world doesn’t have to shrink.”