When COVID-19 has forced most of the pro wrestling industry to go on hiatus, WWE was somehow able to resume running live television shows multiple times a week, event after someone in the company had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. How exactly is the promotion able to do this, with the number of people needed to produce live television and the amount of physical contact involved in professional wrestling? According to Jerry Demings, the Mayor of Orange County, Florida, it’s because WWE has been deemed an “essential business.”
The Orange County government provided updates on the coronavirus situation in its area today and Demings was asked (about thirty minutes into the video of the press conference on Facebook) if WWE was deemed an essential business, or if they got a special permit to stay open. Demings replied that “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, so, therefore, they were allowed to remain open.” The mayor did not explain why WWE’s classification was changed.
In regards to the coronavirus case on the roster, Demings said that “I don’t know any of the details of that, obviously, because of HIPAA laws,” but stated that he believed the billion-dollar, publicly-traded corporation would treat its roster like a family. “That’s like a little family,” he said of WWE and its independent contractors. “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 in my house to make sure that the rest of us not get infected, and so I would assume that, from a business perspective, the WWE is doing that type of analysis of its own family.”
Update: The governor of Florida’s office told ESPN that it added “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience” to its list of essential workers because these businesses “are critical to Florida’s economy.” National sports and media productions are only allowed to run in locations “closed to the general public.”