What businesses can stay open, and who must close? Breaking down Gov. Wolf’s announcement

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ)– With Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement Monday related to the coronavirus, many PA business owners and customers were left confused.

Who can stay open? Who has to close?

WTAJ broke down the details on Gov. Wolf’s stance for each type of business. The break-down is in the story below

“Effective at midnight, all non-essential stores are to close in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said Monday.

With this original announcement, Gov. Wolf had many scrambling to understand: What is a “non-essential” business, and who would have to close? Later Monday evening, specifics would later be revealed by Gov. Wolf’s office.

But before these details were released, the phrasing of Gov. Wolf’s press conference, according to some, didn’t give the intended message.

“In the way that the governor’s message came out, it would’ve made everyone think that almost every business was closing.” said Wanda Crosby, Owner of Wiscoy Pet Food Company in State College.

She added:”We received an additional 100 phone calls, and people racing-in to pick up pet food for themselves, neighbors, and parents.”

In short, Crosby said everyone was (and is) looking for clarification from Gov. Wolf.

After contacting the Governor’s Office, below is their official policy.

There’s only three types of stores that are required to close until further notice:

  • State Liquor Stores (closing Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.)
  • State Licensed Day Care Centers
  • Bars and dine-in (sit-down) restaurants. (They can stay open only to offer take-out, delivery, and drive through services).

All other businesses can stay open, but Gov. Wolf is strongly suggesting certain businesses (he calls non-essential) close for at least 14 days.

Gov. Wolf said businesses he’s suggesting should close include:

  • Recreational centers
  • Gyms
  • Yoga centers (and spin classes)
  • Hair and nail salons (including barbershops and spas)
  • Casinos
  • Concert Venues
  • Theaters
  • Sports venues including golf courses
  • Retail facilities (such as clothing stores, and any store not included on the list below).

Stores/sectors Gov. Wolf says are essential to be open include:

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Gas stations and convenience stores
  • Home repair/hardware stores
  • Agricultural services
  • Industrial manufacturers
  • Auto repair shops (mechanics)
  • Biomedical and healthcare locations
  • Post offices
  • Insurance Companies
  • Banks
  • Laundromats
  • Hotels and commercial lodging
  • Veterinary clinics and pet stores
  • Food processing locations
  • Feed mills
  • Construction sectors
  • Trash collection
  • Public transportation
  • Warehousing
  • Storage
  • Distribution

WTAJ spoke with owners of the above stores/sectors who said they recognize that while Gov. Wolf wants them open, it’s not business as usual with customers.

“They are here for essential purchases only, just because we’re open doesn’t mean they get to come and hang with us,” Crosby said.

What about owners of businesses on Gov. Wolf’s “non-essential” list…. are they listening to Wolf’s suggestion to close?

Lindsay Williamson, owner of Animal Kingdom and Growing Tree Toys (two toy stores in Downtown State College) told WTAJ both stores are now closed.

Williamson feels other “non-essential” businesses like hers should close as well.

“It’s not about me, it’s about we.”

Lindsay Williamson

She continued: “As a community we’re not gonna know if we over-reacted… but if we under-reacted… we’re certainly going to see the effects of that. So hopefully by closing now…. we won’t be the level of cases that other bigger communities are seeing.”

Williamson says one option for “non-essential” stores is to deliver their items, or sell them online.

Note: Per Gov. Wolf’s office, he does have the power to require the closure of “non-essential” businesses, but he’s not mandating this. Instead, he’s trusting that business owners will use their best judgement to close and keep customers/employees safe.

Recap video is below.

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