PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor said their physical locations must close by 8 p.m. on Thursday night.
Enforcement of the order begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” said Gov. Wolf in a release. “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.”
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.
Wolf cited his authority under the state’s disaster declaration law in ordering more than 150 types of businesses to close their physical locations.
Wolf said his order would be enforced by state troopers, local officials, the state Health and Agriculture departments and the Liquor Control Board. The two-term governor had previously said he would not use police for enforcement.
“In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers,” the governor’s release said.
“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.”
Law enforcement will use discretion as they enforce the governor’s order, Wolf spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said in a separate email, citing a “range of potential actions,” including notifying people about the closure order, warnings, citations and what she termed “mandatory closure.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars in Allegheny County to halt dine-in services for two weeks.
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