Insights

Governor Wolf’s PA Mandated Closures (Update) – COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Order Requiring Shut-down of All Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses 

Governor Wolf issued an updated shutdown Order earlier this afternoon that required the shutdown of all non-life sustaining businesses as of 8:00 pm this evening for an indefinite period of time. The Order will be enforced beginning 12:01 am on Saturday. This Order applies to any business that is not a life-sustaining business regardless of whether the business is open to the public. For businesses not permitted to remain open, the ordered shutdown only applies to physical locations and physical work. Businesses are permitted to maintain working in a remote capacity. A copy of the Order and list identifying life-sustaining businesses is attached with this update. 

This means all places of businesses should be closed after tonight other than those that are life-sustaining businesses as identified on the attached chart. A variety of basic services and retail providers are permitted to remain open, similar to the prior shutdown order. The difference is the updated shutdown Order is enforceable compared to the prior shutdown order being a stern “recommendation.” Enforcement will be accomplished through a patchwork of different tactics that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions. 

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the fullest extent of the law: 

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania State Police Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions 

Private businesses, local organizations and other noncompliant entities that fail or refuse to comply with the updated shutdown Order will forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action. Such action may include termination of state loan or grant funding, including Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP) grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure from the various agencies listed above for violation of the updated shutdown Order. This seems to stretch from building and construction permits, the health inspection permits, food licenses, liquor and alcohol licenses, as well as professional licenses. 

Finally, in addition to any other criminal charges that might be applicable, the Department of Health is authorized to prosecute noncompliant entities for the failure to comply with health laws, including quarantine, isolation or other disease control measures which is the primary purposes of the updated shutdown Order. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment. 

Again, please review the identification chart attached to determine if your business is permitted to remain open. Any required closure will subject employers and employees to the first “qualification” for the updated FMLA provisions (being an instance where an employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19). This means effected employees would be eligible for FMLA benefits after the ten (10) day wait period. 

While our office will close as of Friday afternoon, March 20, 2020, our attorneys will remain available via cell phone and email. If you have any questions, please contact your MPL attorney to discuss the status of your business’ ability to continue operation, and to review any FMLA questions. Email contacts: Andy Miller (amiller@mpl-law.com); James Sanders (jsanders@mpl-law.com); and Christian Miller (cmiller@mpl-law.com). 

Additionally, please stay tuned as we anticipate a federal order to follow in the next few days which will institute a broader mandatory shutdown.

 

Important Notice: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, nor should it be considered, a substitution for legal counsel by a licensed attorney.

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