Is Easter candy essential? Some stores reportedly ordered to stop selling due to coronavirus

Should special chocolate be treated as a nonessential good?
Overhead view of girl with Easter eggs and bunny in basket
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/ Source: TODAY
By Erica Chayes Wida

Chocolate eggs and bunnies are an essential part of many people's Easter celebrations, but are they considered essential goods amid increasingly strict coronavirus-related regulations?

Like many people in the United States, millions in the United Kingdom have been issued "stay-at-home" orders which limit citizens to only leave their homes for essential outings, like picking up food or attending to medical needs. As they attempted to follow the new guidelines, several business store owners were reportedly left wondering whether they could sell seasonal candy after a surprising visit.

On Thursday, the Association of Convenience Stores, a trade organization that represents 33,500 shops throughout the U.K., issued a statement noting that several stores which had been permitted to stay open during the pandemic received visits from "environmental health officers" who told shop owners to stop selling certain goods, including festive items Easter eggs.

The ACS, however, told its members to continue selling whatever products they have in stock, as there are no rules on what can be sold — only on the types of businesses and stores permitted to stay open during lockdowns.

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"All ACS members are able to continue trading throughout the lockdown and play a vital role in keeping our communities looked after in these very difficult times," the ACS wrote. "There are no restrictions on the types of goods that ACS members can continue to sell — in effect you should continue with the stock ranges that you would normally have for this time of year (this includes seasonal goods)."

In the U.S., similar "stay-at-home" orders have been issued to people in dozens of states. While dine-in restaurants, bars, theaters, entertainment facilities, salons and other retail businesses have closed in many counties to prevent the spread of coronavirus, grocery stores, convenience markets and restaurants with takeout and delivery services have remained open.

According to a spokesperson from the National Grocers Association, it is perfectly OK to buy seasonal goods and any festive products available at approved stores.

"We have not been given restrictions on what we sell, just restrictions on items that cannot be marked up like Lysol, hand sanitizer, etc.," the spokesperson told TODAY Food.

Still, after the ACS posted about stores allegedly being told to stop selling Easter eggs, there was swift backlash on social media.

As right now, however, enjoying a little chocolate is definitely OK so the next time you're headed out to the grocery store to stock up on essentials, feel free to indulge in the simple pleasure of an Easter egg.

A little tradition can go a long way.