Hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and … pro wrestling.
The WWE has been given “essential business” status allowing it to resume live shows by Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings revealed at a press briefing Monday.
The designation is despite one wrestler reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 and other televised sports shutting down to maintain social distancing and a safe work environment. Florida is otherwise currently under a “stay at home” order.
“Initially there was a review that was done and they were not initially deemed an essential business. With some conversation with the governor’s office regarding the governor’s order they were deemed an essential business and so, therefore, they were allowed to remain open,” Demings said. “They’re like a small family of professional athletes that wrestle and if one of my family members tested positive in my house that would be concerning to me. We would have to make some provisions at my house so the rest not get infected. I assume from a business perspective the WWE is doing that type of analysis of its own family.”
ESPN reported that a spokesperson from DeSantis’ office explained that “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience” were essential because “they are critical to Florida’s economy.”
While WWE defended the move in a statement to TMZ: “We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times. 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.”
Whether Roman Reigns and El Idolo are woven into the social fabric or not, the WWE decision marks the latest controversial move by the Florida governor during the coronavirus crisis. DeSantis has been criticized as being very slow to implement social distancing measures and roll out widespread testing as infection rates soared in his state. The governor also declared last week “I don’t think nationwide there’s been a single fatality under 25” due to COVID-19, which was not true (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported that four people between the ages of 15 and 24 and one between under the age of four has died). DeSantis also overrode county officials to let churches to stay open despite a statewide lockdown.
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