Pennsylvania state police to enforce business closures

 

The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) plan to enforce the closures of non-life-sustaining businesses that were ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the agency said Sunday.

PSP Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick said in a release that the state police, along with other state officials, will ensure Wolf’s order is followed. Wolf said Thursday that all businesses had to close amid the pandemic, except for “life-sustaining” businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, farms and transit systems.

Evanchick said in the release that violations of Wolf’s order could lead to fines, jail time or “additional administrative penalties.” 

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“We believe most Pennsylvanians want to act responsibly and do their part to help slow the spread of this deadly virus,” he said in a statement. “Troopers and liquor control officers will make every effort to achieve voluntary compliance by educating business owners and using discretion when appropriate.” 

The police agency will work with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and local officials to enforce the law. 

“But our message is clear: COVID-19 is a serious health and public safety risk that requires an extraordinary response from law enforcement and the public,” he added. “I urge everyone to stay home, stay calm, and stay safe.”

Last week, the governor also ordered all bars and restaurants to close except for drive-thru, carry-out and delivery services, as several states followed. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has recorded 479 confirmed cases. The state has experienced two deaths from the outbreak, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Pennsylvania borders New York, which has confirmed thousands of cases and is considered a coronavirus hotspot in the U.S.