In the name of Covid19, the authorities are deciding for us what is essential and what is non-essential

Blog post by Marica Micallef

Non-essential has become a catchy phrase among our authorities and those worldwide when they decide what to close or not during the lockdown. However, it is still beyond me how a shop is classed  as essential or not.

This is because my argument is two-fold. Firstly, what is essential to a person might not be essential to someone else and it all depends on the needs of a person at a point in time. If it happened that my sports shoes got torn during lockdown, then, at that point in time, the sports shoes have become an essential item, for me to keep on being active and do sports.

Moreover, a traditional list of immediate BASIC NEEDS is food (including water), shelter and CLOTHING. Many modern lists emphasize the minimum level of consumption of ‘basic needs’ of not just food, water, clothing and shelter, but also sanitation, education, and healthcare. So, according to this list, we are being deprived of basic needs like clothing, education (since for a period of time, schools have turned online) and denied cures when the swab tests turned positive.

Supermarkets abroad have also removed all non-essential products, following the government guidelines to “make arrangements for the separation” of the non-essential section. Supermarkets like Tesco closed off sections like clothes and toys to customers. I am not aware of the local scene when it comes to this because I do not shop from supermarkets.

With venues that serve food and supermarkets remaining open, I believe that authorities are discriminating among who can continue earning money and who cannot. Firstly, some restaurants were not started on the concept to offer take-away because of the specific menu they usually offer, and secondly, witnessing queues of cars in fast-food outlets’ drive-ins locally, shows that our health is not truly at the heart of our authorities. Having these fast-food outlets still running, with food that is damaging to our health, is surely not the way to help people fight a pandemic or a virus! The same argument applies to closing gyms. It seems that Covid has become the green light for less exercise and junk food and a red light for gambling for example.

This is because ironically lotto booths have remained open. Surely, playing the lotto is not an essential thing which one can surely do without and in the meantime, save money. So, on what basis and factors did the health authorities decide on what makes a non-essential and essential?

How apt it is to state that during Covid-19, the authorities banned “seeing your family”, “your right to earn a living”, “the gyms”, “seeing elderly in care homes”, “free speech” and “your right to breathe freely” while allowed “you to buy alcohol and cigarettes”, “fast food places to stay open”, “large corporations to earn a living”. 

For sure, this is not about health.

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