According to a memo released by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last week, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestling organization has been deemed an “essential business,” which means that it is allowed to continue to operate despite the state’s shutdown orders.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings told reporters on Monday that the organization will continue to host live television broadcasts from its Orlando training facility at Full Sail University in Winter Park. ESPN has speculated that this April 9 ruling could set a precedent for other professional sports in the state to continue.
Demings said that although the WWE was not designated as essential in the previous stay at home order that took effect on April 3, he was able to change the governor’s mind about the decision over the past week and convinced him about the social and economic importance of the wrestling league.
While essential businesses were initially intended to be limited to life-sustaining services, such as health care, banking, energy, food, communications, and transportation, these guidelines now include sports and media production, so long as there is no audience present.
The memo stated that “essential services” in the state will now include “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience—including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production—only if the location is closed to the general public.”
On Monday, a spokesperson from Gov. DeSantis’ office told ESPN that WWE and similar businesses should be considered essential “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.”
During today's Coronavirus update, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings confirmed #WWE has been deemed an “essential business” by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office, and that is why they're still able to run TV tapings: Story: https://bit.ly/2Vpuf6d
Posted by WrestleZone on Mandatory on Monday, April 13, 2020
WWE issued a statement on the matter:
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE said in a statement. “We are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.”
Last month, the video game retail store GameStop attempted to keep its doors open under similar pretenses, arguing that they were an essential business because they helped people work and keep themselves occupied from home. However, after media backlash and protests from employees, the company was forced to close its retail locations across the country. GameStop is just one of many businesses that were already struggling before the pandemic and may not be able to reopen after the shutdown ends.
As unemployment and poverty continue to surge as a result of the economic shutdown, debates continue to grow about which businesses should still be operating. As an opinion piece in the Atlantic pointed out last month, the conversation about which businesses are essential has been largely dominated by the wealthy and middle class who have the luxury of working on conference calls or Zoom meetings and having groceries delivered to their homes.
WWE deemed "essential business" in Florida, will resume live TV programming. pic.twitter.com/LMOSJ6LUso
— ExtraTV (@extratv) April 14, 2020
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