Do Bike Shops Provide “Essential Services” in the Time of COVID-19?
*UPDATE, Monday, March 30, 5p: The Essential Service FAQ page has been updated to specifically say bike shops ARE essential if they provide repair services. We are grateful to the Governor’s team for reassessing the status, and to many legislators who helped elevate the conversation to the right folks, and to the shop owners who filled out the designation request form and who are taking impressive steps to ensure there is no risk of contamination or spreading the virus.”
*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 9:30p: We have just learned that the bike shop prohibition language has been removed from the Governor’s FAQ page, and though we are still asking for bike repair shops to be named as “essential,” this gives us confidence that the State is not prohibiting bicycle repair as a necessary service during these this Emergency Order. We advise all shops that choose to stay open to also check with their local municipality.*
*UPDATE, Wednesday, March 25, 8a: Per the Governor’s FAQ published after this blog, bike shops are NOT included as essential, however many municipalities are contacting shops and letting them know they consider them essential. We will be working with the administration to get this changed so there is clarity and consistency across the state from the Governor’s Office on this matter.*
This week Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services to close their locations through (at least) April 7. This is a crucial move to stem the spread of the Novel Coronavirus by limiting social interactions and preventing the contamination of public spaces. So what does this mean for your local bike shop?
Well, per the Governor’s list of “essential services” one could take a loose constructionist interpretation that bicycle repair shops fall into the Transportation and Logistics category, specifically “Employees who repair and maintain vehicles, aircraft, rail equipment, marine vessels, and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers.”
Obviously bicycle shops are providing transportation services by repairing and maintaining bicycles, which is the primary form of transportation for many essential workers such as hospital staff, grocery store clerks, and workers of all stripes — especially in Massachusetts’ urban areas.
Over the past week, the Frequently Asked Questions page regarding Essential Services had stated bike shops as not essential. However, due to a hearty advocacy push from MassBike, our partner advocates, bike shop owners, and concerned state reps and senators, as of Monday, March 30th the language has been changed to specifically state that bike shops CAN stay open if they provide bike repair services.
We are grateful to the Governor’s team for reassessing the status. And to many legislators who helped elevate the conversation to the right folks. And to the shop owners who filled out the designation request form and who are taking impressive steps to ensure there is no risk of contamination or spreading the virus.