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Gov. Wolf Orders All Non-Life Sustaining Businesses To Close

Thursday, March 19, 2020 @ 05:03 PM

Posted by Chris Rossetti

wolf-businessesHARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Thursday afternoon ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8:00 p.m. Thursday to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Enforcement actions will be taken against businesses that don’t comply with the order starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

“No person or entity shall operate a place of business in the Commonwealth that is not a life-sustaining business regardless of whether the business is open to members of the public,” the order signed by Wolf said. “This prohibition does not apply to virtual or telework operations (e.g., work from home), so long as social distancing and other mitigation measures are followed in such operations.”

Wolf said life-sustaining businesses may remain open, but they must follow, at a minimum, the social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to protect workers and patrons. A list of life-sustaining businesses that may remain open can be found here.

Some life-sustaining businesses include but are not limited to grocery stores; automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores; beer distributors; building material and supplies dealers; gasoline stations; restaurants (take out only); automotive repair and maintenance “other” general merchandise stores; electronic shopping and mail-order houses; truck transportation; public transportation; taxi and limousine service; postal services; utilities; garbage removal; and banks. (this is not a comprehensive list see link above for all businesses)

In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” Wolf said in a statement. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”

Wolf is claiming power under the Commonwealth-wide disaster emergency he issued as to why he can order the closing of all non-life-sustaining businesses.

“In addition to general powers, during a disaster emergency, I am authorized specifically to control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area and the movement of persons within it and the occupancy of premises therein; and suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, and combustibles,” Wolf’s order said. “In executing the extraordinary powers outlined above, I am further authorized during a disaster emergency to issue, amend and rescind executive orders, proclamations and
regulations and those directives shall have the force and effect of law.”

Failure to Comply and Enforcement

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the full extent of the law: • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board • Department of Health • Department of Agriculture • Pennsylvania State Police • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions Private businesses, local organizations and other noncompliant entities that fail or refuse to comply with the governor’s orders that protect the lives and health of Pennsylvanians will forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action. Such action may include termination of state loan or grant funding, including Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP) grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure for violation of the law. Finally, in addition to any other criminal charges that might be applicable, the Department of Health is authorized to prosecute noncompliant entities for the failure to comply with health laws, including quarantine, isolation or other disease control measures. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment.

Business Loans and Support

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to http://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses.

The Wolf Administration today announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Businesses seeking guidance from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov or by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH and selecting option 1.

The governor’s order can be found here.


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