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What's Open, What's Not? Who Must Close?Clarifications Issued on PA Shutdown

HARRISBURG (MAR 17 2020)-- Yesterday afternoon, Governor Wolf announced that "effective at midnight, all non-essential stores are to close in Pennsylvania." Late last night, his office issued additional detail and clarification of the parameters of the shutdown.


Businesses "Strongly Urged" to Close


With the exceptions of dine-in services, liquor stores, and casinos, all businesses are actually under a "voluntary shutdown". as the Governor did not issue an order under the state Emergency Management Services Code. The Governor said that if businesses did not cooperate, he would make the shutdown mandatory. In a press release, the Wolf Administration said it "strongly urged non-essential businesses across the state to close for at least 14 days to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The governor’s request protects employees, customers, and suppliers and limits the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces."


Non-Essential Businesses Listed


The Governor's office said that "non-essential businesses" include "public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities."


The clarification listed businesses "urged" to close as community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.

Liquor Stores, Casinos, & Dine-In Services Under Mandatory Shutdown


The Pennsylvania Gaming Board yesterday ordered all casinos to shut down by 6 am today, and the Liquor Control Board ordered state liquor stores to clos at 6 pm today.


Restaurants and bars have been ordered to close their dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited. Businesses offering carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.


"Essential Services" Expanded


The Governor's clarification expanded the definition of "essential services" to include food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotels and commercial lodging.


Professional and Business Offices Not Included


Other businesses, including but not limited to legal services, business and management consulting, professional services and insurance services are encouraged to have employees work remotely or telecommute. If that is not possible, they should employ social distancing best practices and be aware of the Trump Administration’s guidance to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.


Potential Financial Assistance for Impacted Businesses


“We strongly urge non-essential businesses across the commonwealth to do their part by temporarily closing as we work to flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “We understand that businesses are an economic driver throughout Pennsylvania, and a temporary closure will be a financial and community disruptor. DCED is committed to working with the business community to provide helpful resources for financial assistance.”


DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to http://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses.


The Wolf Administration emphasized that it "is relying on businesses to act now before the governor or the Secretary of Health finds it necessary to compel closures."

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