Governor orders non-life-sustaining businesses to shut down, directive will be enforced

Staff Writer

HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is tightening his directives to businesses to shut down, issuing a dire warning and saying Thursday that all “non-life-sustaining” businesses in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations by 8 p.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close their physical locations will begin Saturday, Wolf said in a statement.
“I had hoped for voluntary compliance so our public safety officials could focus on assisting with the crisis," Wolf said in a video statement. "Unfortunately we have not seen full compliance. We have no time to lose.”
Under Wolf's order, more than 150 types of businesses have been told to close their physical locations.
The following link provides an extensive list of businesses impacted:
Wolf said his order would be enforced by state troopers, local officials, the state Health and Agriculture departments and the Liquor Control Board.
Businesses that fail to comply risk citations, fines or license suspensions, and "forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action," Wolf's office said in a statement.
Criminal prosecution is also a possibility, with violators subject to fines or imprisonment, Wolf's office said.
Businesses that remain open must practice social distancing and other measures to protect workers and patrons from contracting the virus, it said.
Allowed to stay open are gas stations, grocery stores, beer distributors, drugstores and building materials stores. Restaurants and bars can continue to offer carry-out, delivery and drive-thru food and drink service, but not dine-in service.
Businesses under shutdown orders range from coal mines to building contractors to many types of manufacturers, plus professional offices including law firms and accounting offices.
Retailers ordered to close include car dealers, clothing stores, furniture stores, florists, office supply stores and lawn and garden stores.
Wolf's statement came as Pennsylvania reported another big jump in confirmed coronavirus cases and Wolf's administration worked to help hospitals create more bed spaces in anticipation of a surge in coronavirus patients.
Confirmed coronavirus cases topped 180, up 40%, according to the state Department of Health. In Philadelphia, officials reported that 20 of the 44 cases there are health care workers, although they were not all exposed at work.
Meanwhile, with schools ordered shut for at least the rest of March and possibly longer, the state Education Department canceled statewide tests for schoolchildren because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Health Secretary Rachel Levine said her agency is asking hospitals, starting Friday, to update their emergency plans to accommodate COVID-19, the disease caused by the new Coronavirus.
That directive includes asking hospitals to postpone elective procedures and admissions to ensure as many beds as possible are available for coronavirus patients.
The department is also lifting a regulation that prevents a hospital from adding beds without permission and trying to make sure that hospitals have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators.