Wolf ‘strongly urges’ nonessential businesses to close
Gov. Tom Wolf announced on March 16 that COVID-19 mitigation efforts affecting Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties would go into effect for all 67 counties in the commonwealth starting 12:01 a.m. March 17.
According to a news release from his office, Wolf is permitted under law to enforce closures, however, the governor’s approach — strongly urging nonessential businesses across the state to close for at least 14 days is to reinforce the idea that mitigating the spread can help to protect customers, employees and the community.
“We strongly urge nonessential businesses across the commonwealth to do their part by temporarily closing as we work to flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” Secretary of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin said. “We understand businesses are an economic driver throughout Pennsylvania, and a temporary closure will be a financial and community disrupter.
“DCED is committed to working with the business community to provide helpful resources for financial assistance.”
Nonessential businesses include: public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.
In addition, Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars to close dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Carryout, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.
Essential services and sectors include but are not limited to: food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and health care, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.
Although these businesses may remain open, the Wolf Administration continues to encourage them to employ social distancing practices, and encourages Pennsylvanians to be thoughtful in their visits.
Other businesses, including but not limited to legal services, business and management consulting, professional services and insurance services are encouraged to have employees work remotely or telecommute.
If that is not possible, they should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
In closing the news release states, “The Wolf Administration is relying on businesses to act now before the governor or the Secretary of Health finds it necessary to compel closures under the law for the interest of public health, including section 7301 of the Emergency Management Services Code.”
For information on COVID-19, go to governor.pa.gov and doh.pa.gov.
The administration supports local law enforcement, permitting entities and local officials to enforce, if needed.
Mitigation efforts which began 12:01 a.m. March 17 include:
•All restaurants and bars closed their dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that offer carryout, delivery, and drive-thru food and beverage service may continue to do so but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.
•A no-visitor policy for correctional facilities and nursing homes has been implemented and will be evaluated for other facilities.
•Freedom of travel will remain, but all Pennsylvanians are asked to refrain from nonessential travel.
•All child care centers licensed by the commonwealth closed as of March 17 and will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 14-day statewide closures.
•Adult day care centers, adult training facilities, Provocations facilities, LIFE centers and Senior Community Centers close beginning March 17 and will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 14-day statewide closures.
•Essential state, county and municipal services will be open: police, fire, emergency medical services, sanitation, and essential services for vulnerable populations.
•Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open. The administration issued guidance for nonessential businesses, such as gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls during county-specific mitigation periods to protect employees, customers, and suppliers and limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces. Additional statewide business guidance is forthcoming.
•Wolf announced on March 13 that all kindergarten through grade 12 Pennsylvania schools would be closed for 10 business days effective March 16.
•The Wolf Administration strongly encourages the suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of more than 10 people, and per White House guidelines, ask that individuals and groups cancel any gatherings planned over the next eight weeks.
•The Wolf Administration encourages religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of illness.
•Restricted visitors in state centers to ensure health and safety for individuals with an intellectual disability.
•Restricted visitors in assisted living and personal care homes to minimize exposure to our seniors and individuals with disabilities.