Pa. governor orders all non-life-sustaining businesses to close

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Governor Wolf provides a video statement on COVID-19 from his home in York County, March 19. (Pennsylvania Governor's Office)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close physical locations by 8 p.m. March 19 to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order will be enforced beginning after midnight March 21.

Most agricultural businesses are deemed life-sustaining. That includes grain and other crop farming,livestock and poultry production, vegetable farming, greenhouses and nurseries, fishing, hunting and trapping and food and grain manufacturing. Support activities for those businesses are also considered life-sustaining.

Oil and gas extraction is OK to continue, but not coal mining or other types of mining.

Forestry, logging, timber tract operations were not considered to be life-sustaining; neither are fiber or textile mills or wood product manufacturing.

The full list of businesses can be found here.

Earlier in the week, Wolf asked all non-essential businesses to close, but said he was not enforcing the request at that point. Restaurants and bars were required to stop dine-in services, but can still offer carryout, delivery and drive-through services.

Pennsylvania reported its first death related to COVID-19, an adult from Northampton County, on March 18.

The governor is granted these “extraordinary powers” after declaring a disaster emergency on March 6, according to the press release from the governor’s office.

Wolf directed the Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Police and other local officials and agencies to enforce the order.

Those who do not comply may lose state loans or grant funding and forfeit their ability to receive disaster relief. They also may face criminal charges.

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