Pennsylvania Businesses Reopening Despite Gov. Wolf’s Orders

open for business
Artem Beliaikin via Unsplash

Some Pennsylvania business owners are reopening their businesses in defiance of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home orders, citing the need to save their livelihoods.

“I had to save my business,” Julie Potter, owner of East Freedom’s Tame Your Mane salon, told NBC Philadelphia. “I couldn’t let it end like that.”

The salon has increased safety precautions, like temperature checks, the use of masks, and increased sanitization, according to the owner.

Gorilla House Gym in Altoona has also reopened despite the governor’s orders, barring the reopening of “nonessential businesses” like salons and gyms — even in the “yellow” phase of reopening.

“No one allowed us to do this,” owner Ray Ross stated, according to the Altoona Mirror. “We did this on our own. We just decided to do it.”

“We didn’t ask permission to do it. We just did it, and we’re going to keep doing it. Someone had to take a stand,” he added. “Enough is enough.”

Officials have cited the gym, but Ross said he has no intention of closing.

“The governor keeps pushing back the opening day, and it’s pretty obvious this has turned political. Nurses are being laid off, and the hospitals are not overrun,” he stated, adding they have received an “insane” amount of support from gym-goers.

Both businesses are located in Blair County, which is not included in the 24 counties Wolf said could enter into the state’s “yellow” phase on Friday, May 8, even though it has just 25 coronavirus cases. Even so, the “yellow” phase continues to bar salons and gyms from reopening.

Meanwhile, Nichole Missino, owner of Giovanni’s Media Barber Shop in Media, Pennsylvania, said she and her employees have decided they must resume trading, even though the county remains under the “red” phase.

“We just all came to the decision, ‘We’re going to have to open because pretty soon we’re going to run out of money to feed our families,’” said Missino said. She and her employees have been unable to receive unemployment benefits, NBC Philadelphia reported. They plan to reopen on Saturday:

Barbers are trained to contain infectious diseases, Missino said, and she plans to reopen Saturday with plenty of additional safety precautions, including masks, face shields and partitions between barber chairs. Still, police warned her they would revoke her certificate of occupancy if she went through with it, she said.

There have been a number of lawsuits lodged against the governor over the order. Rep. Mike Kelly, (R-PA) joined business owners and four counties in an action over the constitutionality of Wolf’s move. Previous actions have proven, so far, to be unsuccessful.

Wolf has extended the state’s stay-at-home order to June 4. It covers all counties that are not included in the 24 moving to the “yellow” phase. He is expected to announce the next series of counties that will be permitted to move into the next phase of reopening on Friday.

Under the “yellow” phase, in-store retail shopping is “allowable,” but bars and restaurants are limited to take out and delivery, and salons, barbershops, theaters, and fitness centers are required to remain closed.

Counties that are currently permitted to move into that phase include Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

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