HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Protesters began gathering outside the state Capitol on Monday to demand that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania’s economy even as new social-distancing mandates took effect at stores and other commercial buildings.

Meanwhile, both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature are planning to return to session as Republicans push legislation that would take away some of Wolf’s power to determine which businesses must remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Wolf, a Democrat, has said he will veto one bill sent to him last week and another that is expected to win House passage as early as Monday.

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Republican lawmakers are also planning to attend the protest outside the Capitol, which is being organized or promoted by several groups that recently popped up on Facebook, including one connected to a low-profile gun-rights group.


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The protesters say it’s time to end the shutdown that has thrown at least 1.4 million Pennsylvanians out of work.

On Friday, Wolf said Pennsylvania has managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic and laid out a “framework” for a gradual reopening of the state’s battered economy, with more details to come this week. But he said serious obstacles remain, including a national shortage of coronavirus testing materials and the continued spread of the virus, with more than 1,000 new cases being confirmed daily in Pennsylvania.

Wolf said he would rely on an “evidence-based, regional approach” guided by health experts and economists that will help him decide when it’s safe.

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