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Gov. Wolf orders statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf extended a shutdown order to the entire state of Pennsylvania in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus, he said Monday.

Wolf had already called for nonessential government offices to close and nonessential business activity to end in four heavily populated southeastern Pennsylvania counties.

On Monday, he extended that order to the rest of the state.

“This isn’t a decision that I take lightly at all,” Wolf said. “It’s one I’m making because medical experts believe it’s the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”

Wolf’s order is a blend of voluntary and mandatory actions. For instance, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said it was suspending gambling operations for all casinos. Wolf on Sunday night ordered bars and restaurants in five counties to close dine-in service and said businesses that do not adhere to the order could face penalties.

Still, he also said that he would not use force to close businesses, but he urged people to understand that all Pennsylvanians are in the fight together and said they owe it to one another not to spread the disease.

“People will be making their decisions what they do with their lives all across the commonwealth for the next days and weeks and months,” Wolf said in response to a reporter’s question about racetracks refusing to close unless forced. “What we ought to do is think not what should we do in terms what the law is, but what should we do in terms of what we owe to our fellow citizens.”

The state Department of Community and Economic Development issued these guidelines on what are considered essential and non-essential businesses:

Non-essential businesses include community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; bars; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls and except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations. Restaurants are urged only to remain open for carry-out and delivery orders.

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