Northwestern Press

Saturday, April 4, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Wolf orders closure of non-life-sustaining businesses at 8 p.m. March 19

Thursday, March 19, 2020 by Debra Palmieri in Local News

Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. today, March 19, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to information provided by the governor’s office, enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations will begin 12:01 a.m. March 21.

Enforcement actions for restaurant, bar dine-in closure began 8 p.m. March 18.

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,” Gov. Wolf said. “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.”

The governor had previously encouraged non-life-sustaining businesses to close to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants and bars were already required to stop all dine-in services.

Enforcement for establishments with a liquor license began at 8 p.m. March 18, and enforcement for all other food establishments will begin at 8 p.m. tonight.

Food establishments can offer carry-out, delivery and drive-through food and beverage service, including alcohol.

The Emergency Management Services Code gives the governor extraordinary powers upon his declaration of a disaster emergency, such as COVID-19.

Among these powers, the governor may control the ingress and egress into the disaster area, movement of persons, and the occupancy of premises within the disaster area, which has been established to be the entire commonwealth for the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

The secretary of health separately is authorized under the law to employ measures necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease.

The statement from the governor’s office says 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 grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure for violation of the law.