Can My Business Stay Open During A Shutdown Order?


he pandemic has done more than simply worry that we’re dying each time we cough. It has also triggered some pretty intense discussions about how much power the government has when it comes to shutting down your business. Most business owners never imagined that a day would come when the Governor would see what businesses could and couldn’t stay open, how many people were allowed into the businesses that were allowed to operate, and even the items you’re allowed to sell. Yet that’s exactly the type of world we’re currently dealing with.

Business owners, particularly small business owners that rely on in-person sales are in a tough spot. On one hand, following the governor’s orders and staying closed means losing their business to the bank. On the other hand, ignoring the governor and opening up means losing their business license, or worse.

If you’re a small business owner who is wondering about if you can skirt the governor’s orders and stay open, here are a few things you should know.

No One Really Knows

One of the biggest problems is that no one really knows how much power state governors have when it comes to telling business owners that they have to close the doors. As a result, some business owners have opted to defy closure orders and stay open. Others have opted to change their inventory just enough so they can qualify their business as an essential business. Others are toeing the law and praying that the pandemic lightens up enough for them to eventually reopen their doors.

Are Police Enforcing Business Closure Orders During the Pandemic?

While there have been reports of some business owners being arrested for defying shut down orders, the most famous cases involve a pair of New Jersey gym owners and a Michigan barber. There’s been little information about Tennessee business owners who have defied the shutdown orders being arrested.

It’s difficult to say if the lack of arrests stems from business owners obeying the order, police turning a blind eye to businesses who are operating but staying low key despite the shutdown order, or if there simply hasn’t been much press coverage.

Something to Consider

As a small business owner, it is up to you to decide if you want to defy the shutdown order and stay open even though you know that there is a risk you’ll lose your business license or even be arrested for your act of defiance. If you’re considering opening, one thing you should stop to consider is your liability if someone contracts pandemic and is able to trace the infection point to your business. Currently, it’s unclear how insurance companies plan to handle such claims, but there is a chance that they could say that since you defied the shutdown orders, they don’t have to intervene on your behalf, leaving you vulnerable to a costly civil lawsuit.

Hopefully, something will happen so that pandemic worries decrease and everyone can return to a normal life where they don’t have to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining their livelihood and breaking the law.