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CLA Lobbies Authorities to Designate Laundromats as ‘Essential’

Efforts under way to keep laundry businesses open during pandemic

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — As state and local authorities move to close or restrict many businesses as a means to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coin Laundry Association (CLA) has launched a public relations campaign in an effort to keep Laundromats open during the outbreak.

A CLA statement circulated earlier this week and targeting state governments and the mainstream media requested that authorities designate all Laundromats as “essential services” that provide a basic health service by serving millions of families with a safe place to wash and dry their clothes every week.

In recent days, many states have ordered bars and restaurants closed to on-site dining. Gyms, casinos and movie theaters are some of the other “non-essential” businesses being urged to closed temporarily.

“I needed a piece that could be sent to governmental entities as well as general press to advocate for Laundromats to be on the list of ‘essential’ businesses — especially as more governors and state departments of health consider broader business closures as they have in several states,” CLA President/CEO Brian Wallace tells American Coin-Op.

Regular clothes washing during the pandemic is in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. “Access to services is particularly important for Laundromat customers who are often among low-income families with few alternatives to the neighborhood Laundromat for clothes washing,” the CLA statement said.

It cited the performance of commercial-grade washers and gas-fired dryers and how they can exceed the capabilities of residential machines in flushing contaminants and enhancing cleaning. Further, the CLA said it was sharing CDC recommendations with its members regarding enhanced cleaning of hard surfaces and other “high touch” areas within their stores.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf urged non-essential businesses across his state to close for at least 14 days. Laundromats were specifically listed among “essential services and sectors” exempt from the request.

So far, New Jersey is the only state where Laundromats are not on the essential list and therefore subject to the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. closure for all non-essential businesses, Wallace says.

Additionally, the CLA has drafted a template letter that a laundry owner can send to his or her local government officials about designating Laundromats as necessary to providing an essential community service. Laundry owners can learn more by visiting the association’s website.

“The 30,000 small-business owners of Laundromats in the United States stand ready to help families keep their clothes clean during the pandemic,” the CLA statement concluded. “CLA is ready to work with federal, state and municipal authorities to keep Laundromats running during this crucial time.”