Wolf Extends Stay-at-Home Order to May 8, to Be Followed by Gradual Reopening
April 20, 2020 2:47 PM
by Geoff Rushton
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Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday extended Pennsylvania's stay-at-home order to May 8, but announced plans to ease some business restrictions and take steps toward a gradual reopening of the state.

"This is not going to be resuming operations as they were in February," Wolf said. "We still do not have a vaccine. We still do not have an antibody test, and we still don’t have a way to cure COVID-19. Without continuing to take precautions, we’re all going to see a resurgence of this deadly virus, so we cannot relax."

Reopening the state and lifting stay-at-home orders will be "a measured, region-by-region and sector approach," using standards Wolf outlined on Friday

"If we open in a rural area that does not mean we’re ending the stay at home orders for places like Philadelphia," he said.

Wolf announced a few beginning steps on Monday. He will sign legislation that lets notaries public perform online notarizations, allowing for auto dealers to conduct vehicle sales and leasing online. While dealers can remain open for repairs and auto part sales, in-person vehicle sales and leasing remain prohibited.

Starting on May 8, public and private residential and non-residential construction can resume with strict guidelines in place for social distancing.

The state-run wine and spirits stores on Monday began offering curbside pickup of limited phone orders at 176 locations. Wolf said allowing the service will help determine if curbside pickup can be more broadly applied to retail stores and other businesses.

"We’re going to consider a whole lot of things as we move toward that May 8 gradual opening," he said. "From a common sense point of view, that’s going to be harder to do in densely populated areas than it will be in more sparsely populated areas."

Wolf's remarks came as protestors descended on the state Capitol demanding an end to the stay-at-home order and business shutdowns. 

"I think everybody wants to get through this phase as quickly as possible… The question we all have to face is, what’s the reality? If we go too quickly this could be unsafe for people… As much as we might dream of a magic wand, it doesn’t exist," he said.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has stabilized, Wolf said, preventing a surge of patients that would overwhelm hospitals. The 948 new cases reported on Monday were the lowest since March 31.

Federal guidance issued last week said that states should have a 14-day decline in cases and robust testing before reopening, and Wolf said those and other standards will need to be in place for Pennsylvania.

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