Gov. Wolf orders ‘non-life-sustaining’ businesses to close physical locations to halt coronavirus spread

Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered that all “non-life sustaining” businesses in Pennsylvania must close by 8 p.m. Thursday in an effort to slow the spread of covid-19.

Businesses that refuse to close down will face “enforcement actions” beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, beer distributors, bakeries and auto parts stores are among those businesses permitted to stay open.

Car dealers and laundromats are among the businesses that must close.

“Earlier this week I mandated all restaurants and bars close their dining facilities and offer only to-go options, and I asked all nonessential businesses to close,” Wolf said in a video statement. “I had hoped for voluntary compliance so our public safety officials could focus on assisting with the crisis. Unfortunately we have not seen full compliance. We have no time to lose.”

Pennsylvania reported its first death related to covid-19 Wednesday, an adult from Northampton County.

The state has seen a sharp rise in cases over the past two days, with the total statewide case count reaching 185 Thursday – a 39% increase from the previous day.

Here is a list of industries that may and may not continue to operate with a physical location, issued by Wolf’s office:

Scheduled air, rail, water and truck transportation is permitted to operate, as are bus, taxi and urban transit systems.

Charter buses are not permitted to operate.

“I will be working with local officials, permitting authorities and others to enforce mandatory closures,” Wolf said. “We will be using every tool possible to ensure that we are mitigating the spread of covid-19. Restaurants and bars must cease all dine-in activities, or they face citations, fines or license suspensions.”

The governor’s order directs state and local agencies to enforce closure order.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board started enforcing mandated closures of bars and restaurants that continue to serve on-premises food and alcohol Wednesday night.

Any licensee that fails to comply with this mandate now risks being issued a citation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and could have its license suspended.

Carry-out sales of food and beverages are still permitted.

Other state agencies that will be enforcing the governor’s order include the state departments of health and agriculture, along with Pennsylvania State Police.

Local officials may use their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions, according to a statement from Wolf’s office.

Allegheny County officials are reviewing the order, a county spokesperson said.

During a press call held shortly before the governor’s order was released, Allegheny County Health Department Senior Deputy Director Ron Sugar said the department was satisfied with local business closures.

Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen said during the press call that she could not give a timeline for how long it will take to get through this period of closures and social distancing.

“I think we’re going to come together as a community over the next couple of weeks to months to really talk about what is the best approach,” Bogen said. “There’s a lot of discussion at the national level about this, and I don’t want to give any specified time because again, I think this is an evolving situation and we don’t know, so weeks to months.”

Wolf said he considered the impact this decision would have on business owners and workers who are worried about the financial repercussion of a closure, but decided to move forward with it in order to focus on saving lives.

Small businesses that have lost revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be able to apply for low-interest loans now that Pennsylvania has received a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Until we have a vaccine it is important to practice social distancing. However, these measures must be balanced against their costs,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease and critical care physician. “For many individuals, your business is what sustains their life and it becomes very hard to draw a distinction between what is life-sustaining and what is not.”

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, jmartines@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories:
Coronavirus | News | Pennsylvania

Published at Thu, 19 Mar 2020 21:24:15 +0000

Source: Gov. Wolf orders ‘non-life-sustaining’ businesses to close physical locations to halt coronavirus spread.

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