Gov. Wolf doesn’t rule out stay-at-home order; reaffirms plan to enforce business closure order

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf stopped short of issuing a statewide stay-at-home order Sunday evening, but he also left it on the table.

“That’s something that has to be under consideration,” he said during a livestreamed news conference. “We can’t overload our health care system. We need to buy time.”

Earlier Sunday, the state announced that beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, it would begin enforcing Wolf’s order that “non-life-sustaining” businesses must close their physical locations.

Wolf reiterated that intention, calling the coronavirus outbreak “the most significant public health crisis in our lifetime.”

State police and Pittsburgh police have said they will enforce the order starting Monday.

Wolf said the closures are needed to halt the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

“I know that sacrifice is not easy,” Wolf said. “I understand the challenges facing the businesses and all Pennsylvanians.

“Tens of thousands of businesses have already complied with Thursday’s orders to close their physical locations,” Wolf said, noting that most restaurants and bars already were abiding by orders and fewer than 50 establishments were out of compliance.

Wolf said he agreed with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s decision Sunday to issue a stay-at-home order. In Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth-most-populated city at 1.6 million, people may not leave home except to get food, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors, travel to a job classified as essential or perform other actions that involve personal and public safety.

Kenney said people did not seem to take his request to stay home seriously, and he wanted “to ramp up the level of concern so people will get it in their heads that this is a serious epidemic and they need to stay home.”

People, he said, were still going to things such as parties, picnics and barbecues.

The city’s managing director, Brian Abernathy, said Philadelphia would not be under martial law, although officers might intervene to break up large groups of people and send them home.

Banned are public and private gatherings outside a single household, except for limited exceptions, such as businesses deemed essential by the city.

Also banned are walk-in takeout orders at restaurants, as are food trucks and ice cream trucks. Only food preordered on the internet or by phone and drive-through ordering are permitted, Kenney’s office said.

Wolf has already ordered schools shut through March, at least, and asked residents to stay home, even before he ordered non-life-sustaining businesses to close to avoid spreading the virus. Levine has even discouraged parents from letting their children have playdates.

The governor said he has not yet made a decision on whether to extend the school closures beyond the end of this month.

“That’s something we are going to be facing this week,” he said.

“Stopping the spread of covid-19 will take contributions and sacrifices from every single Pennsylvanian,” Wolf said. “We all need to change the way we live our lives, and we’ll have to do that for a period of time so we can emerge safe and healthy.”

The governor said the goal is to give hospitals time “to prepare for the surge. And we need time to develop a vaccine.”

Wolf said the steps being taken are an effort to “keep what happened in Italy from happening here in Pennsylvania.”

“We cannot overload our health care system or we are not going to be able to do anything to respond adequately to the challenges we are all facing,” the governor said.

Wolf said while there is no agreement with the Legislature to postpone the April 28 primary, “I think the members of the Legislature understand that counties have been asking for a postponement (because) it’s tough to train poll workers who are reluctant to come in for training.”

The governor said the administration and lawmakers have been having “robust” conversations about resolving the election issue.

“This is a real issue,” he said. “And the Legislature, to its credit, is working very hard” to resolve the matter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .

Coronavirus | Local | Pennsylvania

Published at Sun, 22 Mar 2020 22:15:35 +0000

Source: Gov. Wolf doesn’t rule out stay-at-home order; reaffirms plan to enforce business closure order.

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