Governor Wolf Clarifies that Non-Essential Business Closures Recommended, Not Mandated

| March 16, 2020

Wolf-COVIDHARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – After declaring that all non-essential businesses must close at Midnight Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf clarified that the closures are not mandated, but are recommended.

“We’re not sending out the state police or the national guard to enforce this,” Wolf said during the question and answer period of his media conference announcing the closure recommendations. “This is what they ought to do, and that’s a public health issue.”

State Rep. Donna Oberlander posted on Facebook Monday afternoon that the governor does not have the authority to close privately operated businesses.

According to Rep. Oberlander, while the closures are a recommendation and not a mandate, in the cases of bars and restaurants, enforcement actions could come into play because they are regulated through state agencies like the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Department of Agriculture.

“The social distancing is a recommendation. Individuals and families just need to use their best judgement,” Rep. Oberlander told EYT Media.

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats noted some of the same issues in information released on Monday afternoon.

“Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health strongly recommend that non-essential businesses temporarily cease operations to mitigate the spread of this disease,” a release stated.

The suggested closures include community and recreation centers, gyms and exercise facilities, hair salons, nail salons, spas, casinos, concert venues, theaters, bars, sporting events facilities, golf courses, non-essential retail facilities, including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities located therein).

The recommendation does allow for restaurants to stay open for carry-out and delivery only.

Earlier Monday, President Donald Trump threw his support behind social distancing.

“It is important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience mild symptoms, they can easily spread this virus and they will spread it indeed putting countless others in harm’s way,” Trump said. “We especially worry about our senior citizens.”

Trump went on to say after consultation with the White House task force and many of the governors, the government has decided to further toughen the guidelines to blunt the infection now.

“We would much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” Trump said. “Therefore, my administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts. If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”

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