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Gov. Wolf Announces Statewide Shutdown of Non-Essential Businesses

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday announced a statewide shutdown of all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania for two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and medical facilities will remain open and municipal services will continue. As of midnight tonight non-essential businesses are to close, including bars and restaurants, which are permitted to offer takeout and delivery. 

‘This isn’t a decision I take lightly at all,’ Wolf said. ‘It’s one that I’m making because medical experts believe it is the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.’

President Donald Trump also encouraged Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people as well as non-essential travel.

Wolf said he anticipates the closures to continue for two weeks ‘but we will be constantly re-evaluating and we will lift the mitigation efforts as soon as possible.’ He said he is not using enforcement to close businesses, but strongly urged that they comply.

According to the Department of Community and Economic Development, ‘non-essential businesses include community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; bars; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls and except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.’

State licensed child care centers, adult day care centers and senior community center also are among locations expected to close on Tuesday as well. A no-visitor policy for correctional facilities and nursing homes also is in place. 

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board subsequently announced all Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores will close until further notice starting at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

Essential services and sectors, meanwhile, ‘include but are not limited to 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 hotel and commercial lodging.’

Wolf had previously ordered all K-12 schools in the commonwealth to close for two weeks and most colleges and universities, including Penn State, have suspended in-person classes.

As of Monday morning, Pennsylvania has 76 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. No cases have been reported in Centre County as of yet. 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said children should not participate in sleepovers or play dates while they are home from school.

‘Your job right now is to stay calm, stay safe and stay at home,’ Levine said.