Enforcement Begins on Non-Life-Sustaining Pa. Businesses

New order significantly strengthens his previous guidance for business owners; those that don't comply by Monday deadline could face fines, lose the chance to apply for disaster aid -- even be jailed

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Any business in Pennsylvania that does anything other than "life-sustaining" work must close its doors, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered.

And if they don't, business owners could be fined, lose their business license, even be jailed -- and would give up the ability to file for disaster aid.

Enforcement of the closures began at 8 a.m. Monday, the governor said.

On Friday, Wolf made some changes to that list, allowing specialty food stores to stay open and accountants to stay on the job. Click here to see the updated list.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” Wolf said in a statement. “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."

The order significantly strengthens Wolf's previous guidance to statewide businesses. This is an order, not a request, and it spells out specifically the few industry segments that can stay open.

The only businesses that can stay open are "life-sustaining" ones: farms and their suppliers, food manufacturing, medical care facilities, medical products suppliers and banks. Retailers that sell food, gas, automotive parts and building materials may also stay open. Most construction sites must close by Monday. Some will be granted exemptions to finish certain work before they are shut down.

Restaurants may continue to offer take-out with rules in place.

Other manufacturing and construction companies must close, as must all other retailers. Security traders, legal firms (unless permitted by the courts), employment services and beauty salons or barbers must close their locations.

Social-services agencies can stay open, but unions must send workers home. Movie or music studios must close, but TV and radio stations may stay open.

Beer distributors, it is important to note, may stay open -- even in Wolf's revised list.

The Wolf administration previously deferred to Philadelphia about what is considered non-life-sustaining businesses in the city.

And there are a few differences in how the state and city are carrying out the shutdown.

Saturday, Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy clarified some of the city's guidance for some businesses, including that construction companies on job sites in the city have until 5 p.m. on March 27 to secure and close their sites.

Abernathy added that the city's Licenses and Inspections Bureau has received more than 250 complaints about businesses staying open when they should not.

L&I will begin issuing warning letters to them.

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